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Whither the Source?

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Sources give us information. That information is the same no matter who looks at it. A researcher might miss something but that missed information is there whether we see it or not. Other times information only becomes meaningful when placed in context. The source has the information but the knowledge needed to interpret it needs […]

GeneADHDlogy

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

“Hmm…I wonder if this the right family. It could be. Better check these new names and see if they clarify things…I’ll start with Reginald, that’s an unusual name.” “Oh, what’s this? Ronald…Could that be Reginald? Better check that!” “Wait, which window did I have that first document in? Ok, found it.” “Here is a Donald […]

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 […]

Hinting at the Facts

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. —Henry David Thoreau Reading old genealogical works can be an almost mystical experience. Not mystical with a capital “M” as in a […]

Poetry + Accounting = ?

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

The famous biologist Edward O. Wilson has written that, “The ideal scientist thinks like a poet and works like a bookkeeper.” That is research in a nutshell. Poetry A poet asks the big questions and looks for the big patterns. What if this isn’t him in these records? What if they married in America not […]

Words to the Wise

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Words. They are the smallest unit of meaning. The documents we study, the stories we are told are built up of those units. Little bits of meaning are added to each other until some information is conveyed. To understand that information we need to understand the basic ingredients. Do we always know what those ingredients […]

Dance of the Sources

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Checking sources can be an oddly enjoyable pastime. At least I think so. That is, I both enjoy it and admit that it might be somewhat odd to enjoy it. I think what lies behind a statement is often even more fascinating than the statement itself. Every conclusion has a story behind it, a sort […]

The Shoebox in No-Man’s-Land

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

There is a facet of research that nags at me every so often. The other day was one of those days. Sometimes when we find something, we know exactly what it means. We can almost immediately claim that we understand it fairly well and if we are lucky and thinking clearly, we won’t need to […]

Trying the Not

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Sometimes the path we walk with our ancestors is a bit convoluted. Sometimes that is an understatement. Often we reach a dead end and wonder why. Sometimes, though the path is correct, here and there our clues to our ancestors’ strange trajectories can turn out to be the reddest of herrings. Every virtue has a […]

Pyrrhic Research

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Heinrich Schliemann is not a name that rolls off the English speaking tongue and his name probably doesn’t appear among your ancestors but I think that he has some interesting things to say about the genealogical research we do. Heinrich did research as well, though not genealogical. Even so, he started with oral history, exactly […]

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