Monday, September 6, 2010

Methodology Monday with directions

A while back I had to follow some directions that turned out not to be quite right. As I began to realize there was something wrong, I spotted a landmark from later on in the directions and managed to reach my destination in good time.

I think that scrutinizing genealogical records that are often in error was a help. "What's wrong with this record and how might it have been intended to read?" is an ever-present question once you get past the indexes and transcriptions and down into the real good stuff.

Part of genealogy is being picky, but that is not everything. Part of it is being comfortable in a gray area, where no source is completely trustworthy and none is completely worthless (well, some come close!), and we have to be able to suspend judgment, sometimes for years, while remembering accurately what they did say. Evidently this mindset has its uses in real life as well.

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