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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 […]

“Family Time” the Genealogist’s Way

Sunday, May 27th, 2012

Have you ever noticed how differently we perceive time? Every circumstance implies its own meanings for “a long time ago” and “recently.” Every human activity has different ways of measuring time. A cosmologist might consider a billion years to be a brief period. For a particle physicist a nanosecond (one billionth of a second) can be […]

DNA 2.0

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

For years now genealogists have been interested in genetics. DNA testing can help us solve genealogical puzzles. It can tell us about unknown relatives. It can give us insight into ethnicity. Sometimes it proves that there is something wrong in our paper trail. Sometimes it shows that our research in the records is likely to […]

Rated G or Rated OMG

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

I find that family stories often take multiple forms as they are preserved. It reminds me of one of the truly strange things that one learns in physics—that a subatomic particle can take more than one path to its destination. It seems truly bizarre. Yet it is fairly easy to show, though it does require […]

The Genealogist’s Memory

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Sometimes things just come together and force a post to be written. Last week I wrote about some stories of a man’s descent from some famous members of the Putnam family of Salem Village. None of those stories turned out to be true in the sense that he was not descended from any of the […]

Building for the Past

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

Last week I wrote about looking at preserved landscape to get a glimpse of what our ancestors saw but last weekend I had some personal experiences with preserved buildings, so I will turn from the natural to the architectural landscape. My  family and I went to the village parade, which is always an “Americana Moment,” […]

The Stories at the End

Sunday, June 12th, 2011

I have been giving quite a few talks of late—three in seven days in fact. One was “Quantum Mechanics for 5th Graders,” which my wife and I did for our daughter’s class at school. The kids were excited and asked a lot of good questions and had a lot of good answers as well. It […]

Interview with Dad

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Back in March, I wrote about a wonderful conversation I had over the phone with my dad. I was looking at a Sanborn map that showed the neighborhood where he was born. I had a few questions about it for a presentation I was preparing and thought I would give him a quick ring. I […]

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