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When a Family Dies

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

A few days ago I was reading a compiled genealogy that speculated about an epidemic. It is a quite reasonable speculation. Several members of an extended family as well as some neighbors all died in the space of a few weeks. What the contagion was, or even if the speculation is correct at all, may […]

The Chicago Cubs and Deep Time

Sunday, October 11th, 2015

This is an odd time of year for any fan of the Chicago Cubs. October is the time to consider who should be traded, wonder if there is hope for next year, wonder if they will ever return to the World Series, and generally think off season type thoughts. Yet, somehow this year there are […]

Down by the Old Mill Stream

Sunday, August 16th, 2015

I like to explore the lives of the people I research. One well-chosen tidbit of information can be extrapolated into possibilities, probabilities and even near certainties. There are many ways to do that exploring. Reading history and historical fiction are ways. Examining documents relating to other people in similar situations is another way. One of […]

Who Did They Think They Were?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

I’m in the planning stages of a new presentation about questions of identity in genealogy. With that in my mind, I found a copy of LAS News (from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at The University of Illinois) waiting for me in my mailbox. I flipped to the first article, Thinking Outside the […]

The Forgotten Plague

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

By the dawn of the nineteenth century, the disease had killed one in seven of all people that had ever lived. That is a statement that will catch one’s attention. I heard it at the opening of a recent edition of American Experience. The disease in question is tuberculosis, or, as we often read in […]

History Super Bowl

Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Earlier this week I listened to a podcast about Thucydides. Another one of those names that isn’t going to actually appear in anyone’s family tree (he died about 2400 years ago), but what was said about him, and his older contemporary Herodotus, got me thinking about genealogy anyway. As founders of history we can see […]

The Christmas Truce

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

There has been a bit in the news lately about what happened on the Western Front 100 years ago. That one front alone would eventually cost 12.5 million casualties, but The Great War was only a few months old in December of 1914, and, at least from the soldiers point of view, it wasn’t clear […]

Macabre Beliefs

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

I’m always fascinated by the beliefs of our ancestors. Sometimes people say that our ancestors were “just like us” and on other occasions we hear that, if we could travel back in time, they would seem totally different from us. Neither is true and yet both are true. Sometimes they will seem surprisingly modern and […]

A Place is not Just a Place

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

One of the thoughts that occurs to me regularly is how tricky the word “place” can be. We use it without really thinking about what lies underneath. It seems like such a simple concept. I’m in one place as I write. You are in another as you read. Those places have names. They have latitudes […]

If April Showers Bring Mayflowers…

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

It is that time of year when children’s thoughts veer from pumpkins to Pilgrims to prancing hooves in rapid succession. Genealogical research won’t put a jack-o-lantern or a flying reindeer into their family trees but what about a Pilgrim? Through a child’s eyes, the level of reality is about the same and, even to many […]

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