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Funhouse Mirror Memories

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Nearly all genealogy begins with memories—your memories, your cousins memories, your great aunt Gertrude’s memories. Someone’s family recollections peak someone else’s interest. Grandma gets interviewed. A notebook is filled with Uncle Ralph’s stories about his relatives when he was growing up and then when word gets out that you’re working on the family history, an […]

Memory’s Moorings

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

A remark in a recent program on PBS caught my attention. A woman who was born into an Amish community showed a picture of herself as a child. It should not exist. In her community you were not supposed to be photographed but she went to a school with non Amish students and so the […]

Memory Palace

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Every once in a while I hear someone make a comment about how they can only name people along a few generations of their ancestry even if they have researched a dozen generations. I find that there is something mesmerizing or perhaps meditative about turning a family tree over in one’s mind, running through the […]

The Genealogists’ Memory

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

A person’s memories are not created instantaneously. There is a process of assimilation. We think of our memories as if they are created by a recording device—formed instantly, perfectly and unalterably. That isn’t the way it actually works. Forming a memory starts in an instant but it can take a lifetime. Our collective memory works […]

Household Archeology

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

A week or so ago and in a round-about way, I got a question about a memorial plaque found in the ceiling of an old house during renovation and it got me thinking about the things we find that tell a little story or present a little mystery about the the places where we live. […]

Tall Tales

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

When I started being interested in my family history one of the things my aunt taught me was that sometimes family stories turn out to be wrong. It was an easy lesson for her to teach. The family story that had most fascinated me was something that she proved to be untrue. That story had […]

Rest in Peace

Sunday, January 6th, 2013

This is, even now, not an easy post to write. When I wrote a genealogical obituary for my Aunt Melva, I was saddened but not surprised that her time had come. No one expected my father-in-law to be proclaimed terminally ill or that he would be gone so fast. Our youngest daughter had traveled to […]

Conserving Ancestors

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

A few weeks ago I was looking at a photograph with a client. It isn’t your ordinary snapshot. It measures about one foot by three feet. It is also about one hundred years old. It also had a problem. It has been rolled up in a cardboard tube for decades and is now both a […]

The Two Deaths

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

The other day I ran across a new concept that I’ve thought about many times before. I suppose the right way to put it is that I heard it put in a new way. I also heard it in French and that always seems to make a thought sound profound. (Unless, of course, French is […]

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 […]

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