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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 […]

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 […]

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