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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 […]


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 […]


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 […]

Believe it or Not

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

“An eastern exchange remarks that Kansas first had border ruffians, then Indian massacres, then tornadoes, grasshoppers, prairie fires, drouth, potato bugs, the exodusters, horse thieves and prohibition and it only lacks a nice small-pox epidemic to complete the set.”
  I read that in a Kansas newspaper published in 1882. Perhaps it is not the most […]

Ignorance is Bliss

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

What is more important in research, what we know or what we don’t know? Learning something new in genealogy always leads to more questions than it answers. There is always more that we don’t know than what we know. Every bit of information leads to the hope that more details can be discovered. Finding a […]

Devils in the Details

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Last week, I was starting to investigate a client’s family story. It was remembered as a case of manslaughter, though not in so many words. It was supposedly committed by a man who married into the family that I was researching. It turned out to involve death threats, a brutal, premeditated murder and the prospect […]

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