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Who Did They Think They Were?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

I’m in the planning stages of a new presentation about questions of identity in genealogy. With that in my mind, I found a copy of LAS News (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at The University of Illinois) waiting for me in my mailbox. I flipped to the first article, Thinking Outside the […]

Mad Men

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Even if your ancestors never worked on Madison Avenue, some of them may have written an advertisement or two, and put a touch of their personality into their writing. In 1774 a pair of men took out ads in the Pennsylvania Packet. They didn’t know each other. It was just coincidence that their ads were […]

A Man of Letters

Monday, September 1st, 2014

I’ve been translating Swedish letters lately and I’m struck by the personalities. Most letters from more than a century ago start with the discussion of health. It seems to be a general feature of letters in the western world at that time. There is the boilerplate proclamation of good health and the question about the […]

It’s 10 p.m. Do You Know Where You Are Researching?

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

When I lived in France and before I had kids, I had a large map of Europe that I mounted on a sheet of corrugated cardboard. I had it hanging on the wall and every time I visited a new place, I stuck a pin into that spot. To add a bit of information, I […]

Sign Here Please

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Today when we think of autograph books, we think of a fan holding a book in one hand and a pen in the other, arms outstretched toward some celebrity. Having one of those once owned by your grandmother might tell you something about her tastes at one stage of her life but it wouldn’t really […]

Leave No Document Unturned

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

The other day a client whose Swedish ancestry I’ve been investigating asked me to take on a project researching in Norwegian records. Norwegian research isn’t something I’d done before except for a document here or there but with that full disclosure, I said I would take a look. Getting into new records is always interesting. […]

Records Evolve

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Records evolve. Some records are created to preserve specific information. These certainly change over time. Go far enough back in time and death records might not give the cause of death, something you expect to see today. Other records are created to gather statistics. These, it seems, evolve much faster. If one simply wants to […]

No More Mr. Nice Pilgrim

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

Last week I wrote a bit about Mayflower passenger George Soule. One thing that I mentioned was that he wrote a will that names his children. He did his genealogical duty. What I didn’t mention was a very interesting detail of his probate. George gave, or had already given, something to each of his surviving […]

Fingered by the Index

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

I don’t remember when I first read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy. Whenever it was, I have read it many times since. I won’t go into much of it here, it would be well off topic. Suffice it to say that it deals with a vast sweep of the future and the decline of a great […]

Royal Heralds and Simple Harolds

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

I never thought that I would ever use the heraldic visitations. Heraldry has that sort of “gravitational” attraction that always makes me somewhat uneasy. People have been known to make up heraldic arms for profit. Some think that there are “family coats of arms” and that everyone has one. People claim or are misled to […]

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