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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. […]

Seven Score and Ten

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

(This is the second part of a three part series. You can find the first part at The Census Goes to War.) I admit that I am fascinated by the Civil War. The scale was so far beyond anything America had known before. In the two days of the Battle of Shiloh, more Americans fell […]

The Census Goes to War

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

As the anniversary of the start of the American Civil War draws near, I thought I might write a post or two about the traces that war left in our documents. Why exactly the war was fought is, like many historical questions, more complex than people generally assume. Yet it is hard to escape the […]

Who Will They Think We Were?

Sunday, March 27th, 2011

I often think about what people of the future might “discover” about me or people that I know well. I think it is an interesting thought experiment. If I imagine what my paper trail will look like in a century or two, I can imagine what mistakes a future family historian might make and perhaps […]

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