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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 […]

Notes to Self

Monday, November 5th, 2012

As I research I often think of things to do, fragments of plans occur to me, possible research strategies start to form and ideas pop into my head. In short I think of things that I can’t do right at the moment. I probably have that in common with roughly 100% of people who do […]

Mixed Motives

Sunday, October 28th, 2012

Last week I brought up motivations. Motives can be important and I don’t mean ours, though they might be important too. I mean our ancestors’ motives. It is a question that gets asked about the accused. Did he have a motive? We ask questions about our ancestors motives all the time. Why did they emigrate? […]

Observations on Mysteries

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The title for this post is stolen with pride. I’ve been reading Believing is Seeing (Observations on the Mysteries of Photography), by the director Errol Morris. I knew I had to read the book after hearing several interviews with him that touched on his almost maniacal pursuit of the correct order of a pair of […]

The Surface and the Deep

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

One sailor says to another as they looked out on the ocean, “That’s a lot a water.” The other one replied, “Yep, and that’s just the top of it.” Sometimes we’re awed by the top of the water. We forget that there is more to it than that. To understand the surface, we need to […]

Coincidence

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

Coincidence n 1 : … 2 : the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection. One of the hardest things for the human mind to grasp is that coincidences happen. We are very, very good at seeing patterns. We are very good at seeing connections. […]

Writing the Fine Print

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Every genealogist knows, or should know, that keeping track of sources is a must. Each fact should have a source. There is something hidden in that last statement. It assumes we have a clear idea of what a “fact” is. Do we? Slicing and Dicing How small can a fact be? Is someone’s name a […]

Drinking a Filtered Brew

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

In genealogy we deal with information. Not just any information but information about, and perhaps more importantly, by people. Sometimes people choose to record, sometimes they choose not to record. Sometimes people choose to pass information to the person making the record, sometimes they choose otherwise. Then we choose to look in one place for […]

The Tale is in the Tellings

Sunday, July 22nd, 2012

“…as daylight began to dawn…a bloodcurdling yell of a large band…on ponies and firing at everyone that showed his head…” Poring over newspapers sometimes turns up something exciting. In this case, the news was not exactly fresh. It was not news. It was a recollection of something that had happened over thirty years before. It […]

Genealeverage

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

The word leverage can be used in many ways. It means one thing in finance, another in social relationships. The original sense comes from engineering. It is simply the way in which a force can be made more effective through he use of a lever. At its simplest, a lever is a rigid rod that […]

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