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Devils in the Details

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Last week, I was starting to investigate a client’s family story. It was remembered as a case of manslaughter, though not in so many words. It was supposedly committed by a man who married into the family that I was researching. It turned out to involve death threats, a brutal, premeditated murder and the prospect […]

It Is Almost 1940

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

It is not without some trepidation that I sit down to enter the world of 1940 census blogging. So much has already been written that I’m somewhat afraid of boring the already over-informed. On the other hand, I love to explore the census and to write nothing before April 2, simply seems wrong. In Case […]

Tax Time

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Like so many others in the U.S. I’ve been working on my taxes. It is that time of year. As a family historian, my mind naturally drifts to a time before TurboTax, stacks of receipts even before real tax forms. When Congress approved the first ever income tax during the American Civil War, it was […]

You Never Know Until You Ask

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Last week I asked a cousin if she had some pictures that had belonged to her mother, my Aunt Melva, who recently passed away. My cousin’s husband said, “Oh I have those scanned and put on CD. Do you want one? I can get it to you next week.” Yes, I certainly did want one. […]

Is it Ever as Simple as it Looks?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Human beings are complicated. We all know that. We’re well aware of the complexity of our own lives, of our own times. We often think that life was simple and uncomplicated before. Part of it is that we were all children once and after we’ve blocked out the hard parts of growing up we’re left […]

The Genealogist’s Memory

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Sometimes things just come together and force a post to be written. Last week I wrote about some stories of a man’s descent from some famous members of the Putnam family of Salem Village. None of those stories turned out to be true in the sense that he was not descended from any of the […]

School of Hard Knox

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

“Aunt Debbie” has been my nemesis for a while now. I’ve mentioned her before as I’ve tried to decide if she is a red herring or an important clue for a client. I know of her from letters that don’t tell me whose aunt she was, let alone how she might be related to one […]

Just, and Unjust, Deserts

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Everyone who researches their family history wants a good story. Almost everyone who finds a soldier in their family, at least secretly, hopes to find a good story of martial glory. Usually we don’t find those stories of glory but we at least come away with a story of a typical soldier who honorably did […]

The First Sunday After… What?

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Last week I finished blogging about the Civil War but Easter occurred last week and I gave a talk about calendars. Here are a few thoughts that lead to why Easter matters so much to our calendar and why you may not really know when an ancestor was born. We live with three basic celestial […]

Reconstructing the Post-War World

Monday, April 25th, 2011

This is the last of a three part look at the Civil War 150 years after it began. The first part was The Census Goes to War the second part can be found at Seven Score and Ten. The aftermath of the war brought a wealth of genealogical information in the form of pension applications. […]

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