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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 […]

Love for Letters

Saturday, December 18th, 2010

I’ve had the privilege of working with some letters lately. Many, many letters. Letters of an age that sent a wave of disbelief through me every time I picked one up and I picked up hundreds. Every letter had a different feel. Some were written on paper so ethereal that I couldn’t believe that they […]

Paleography and the “G-Word”

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

Presumably everyone reading this has heard of the Renaissance—the great flowering of learning and investigation that followed the medieval period and went back to and improved upon Western Culture’s classical roots. Few know that this was at least the second try at a renaissance since the fall of Rome. The first try didn’t go quite […]

Wagging the Long Tail

Saturday, November 27th, 2010

People who study statistics often talk about distributions. They are simply the shapes that appear when you turn data into a picture. Each bit of information might be marked down where it belongs on a number line. With enough data a pattern may emerge. That pattern may have many things to say about underlying causes […]

Geneanthropology

Monday, August 9th, 2010

So many years ago that I don’t quite remember where this took place, I was in an art museum with a friend or two and we came across a strange family portrait. I happened to know why it was so strange and so I got a chance to play tour guide, if only for one […]

A Brief History of Oops

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

I just had a little run in with a new kind of error while checking something for a client. The error came from an index and because of the way in which it probably appeared, that error has gotten me thinking about how the technology we use affects the errors we make and, therefore, the […]

A Very Porous Border

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Watching the Vancouver Olympics, it seems quite natural to both cheer and be excited both for your country and for whoever turns in a great performance. Sometimes we confine ourselves to our national borders, other times an amazing achievement transcends any man-made boundaries. Searching for the history of our families can also be a time […]

Going to the Source

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

When most family historians think of gathering information, they think of looking for written documents. There are other places to look, other things that are not documents but that are fine places to find information. Your source for much of what you learn as you first start out in family history should be relatives. Talking […]

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