Jun 2017

Calculating Dates and Date Ranges

Precision—genealogists know all about the importance of precision when it comes to citing sources, recording details, and interpreting records. But many genealogists are less particular when it comes to calculating and expressing estimated dates. Avoiding fuzzy computations could mean the difference between solving a research problem and facing a roadblock. Many records report age, usually […]
May 2017

Beyond Names, Dates, and Places

The bare essentials that a genealogist must know before starting a research project are name, place, and time period. While those basics may be enough to start searching, they are rarely enough to be able to separate relevant from irrelevant records or to allow genealogists to make sense of the findings. In general, the more […]
May 2017

Do You Read the Q?

Earlier this month, attendees at the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Raleigh, North Carolina, took to social media to proudly display ribbons proclaiming “#IReadtheQ”—that is, to say that they read the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. Reading the Q and other peer-reviewed journals is one of the best ways genealogists can learn about sources and […]
Apr 2017

Proof is Possible

In her 2008 National Genealogical Society Quarterly article called “The Myth of Impossible Proof: Modern Genealogy Methods and a Holocaust Fraud,” author Sharon E. Sergeant wrote “Researchers always fail when they believe proof is impossible or when difficulties stop them from persisting.”[1] Every genealogical research problem comes with a set of complications. Sources may not […]
Apr 2017

Are You Researching Through a Peephole?

We’ve probably all used peepholes to peek out and see who is knocking at the door. The tiny opening gives a glimpse, but it isn’t large enough to provide the full picture. If the visitor is too close, off to the side, or looking down, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to see much. […]
Mar 2017

Writing Family Narratives

Exceptionally well-written family narratives inspire others to try to bring their own ancestors to life in the same way. It sometimes seems, however, that talented writers are born with a gift—that either a person has or doesn’t have talent. Having talent certainly helps, but everyone can improve their writing ability. Just as genealogists spend time […]
Mar 2017

Second Looks, Second Chances

People often say to themselves, “If I only knew then what I know now.”  They look wistfully at past experiences thinking that if they had another chance they might do things differently. In most cases, people can’t redo yesterday. But in genealogical research, we sometimes can—and should—do just that. Second looks are often needed before […]
Feb 2017

Correlation and Validation

Eureka! You’ve found the record you’ve been looking for. It’s right where you expected it to be. The names, dates, places, and situations are consistent with the people you’re researching. You’re tempted to celebrate, thinking you have the information you need. But you’re a responsible researcher. And responsible researchers don’t celebrate based upon something found […]
Feb 2017

Thinking About How Couples Met

In 1898, the sensationalist New York American reported the story of an unusual engagement. A Polish man from Pennsylvania had approached a New York City saloonkeeper and offered to pay him $20 for his help in finding the man a wife. The immigrant requested that for the same $20 the saloonkeeper host a party—complete with […]
Jan 2017

Resolutions, Goals, and Objectives

It’s January—the first month of a new year. This is the time when people tend to think about clean slates and a fresh starts. They make resolutions and set objectives. If you’re a member of the National Genealogical Society, at least some of those objectives likely relate to genealogy. Most people express their resolutions as […]