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Archive for March, 2013

Puzzles and Panoramas

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

One of the most common analogies for what genealogists do involves jigsaw puzzles. We say that we find the pieces and carefully fit them together to prove facts about people’s lives and the relationships between ancestors. Sometimes we even throw in the nasty little fact that the pieces that we find might not all belong […]

Content or Context?

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

I remember hearing a story years ago of a man who sat in an archive, in Spain or perhaps Portugal, sniffing documents. He was trying to detect the subtle, lingering sent of vinegar. Why? Long ago people attempted to prevent the spread of disease by sprinkling mail with vinegar. A letter might claim “we are […]


Sunday, March 10th, 2013

Why is genealogy becoming more popular? There are some trivial, if important reasons—the Internet makes it easier to get started, software makes keeping track of progress easier, those sorts of things. Sometimes when talking to people, I realize another reason is often sitting just below the surface. We are generally becoming less rooted. We no […]

The Sense of Self

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

I’ve just run across a study done a few years ago. It touches on thoughts about family history and our sense of self that I have had for a long time, but goes beyond them and shows how family stories affect a child’s development. In 2005 scientists at Emory University’s Center on Myth and Ritual in […]