Thursday, December 20, 2012

Records and Methods in NGS Magazine

There's nothing I don't like in the NGS Magazine (that is actually a high standard for any publication to meet!) but in the current fall issue I did especially enjoy two items:

* Claire Prechtel-Kluskens explained something I had just begun to notice as a thing in itself, and not just a random additional item in a Civil War pension file: the "family data circulars" of 1898 and 1915. They are valuable to us for much the same reason they were valuable to the Pension Bureau -- as first-hand evidence of relationships.

* Sharon Tate Moody gave an extended law-enforcement perspective on methodology: "Those investigating the life of Samuel Maddox Jr. in Monroe County, Georgia, drew the conclusion that since he had been in the 1830 census but was not in the 1840 census, he must have died. Had they followed sound investigative techniques they would have conducted an exhaustive search of local records," which reveal that he wasn't dead -- merely "serving time in the state penitentiary for attempting to murder his wife."

In brief: the real past is always more interesting than the assumed past.

H Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, "Family data circulars of 1898 and 1915," NGS Magazine, volume 38, no. 4 (October-December 2012): 28-31.

Sharon Tate Moody, "If living were a crime...evidence your ancestor left at the scene," NGS Magazine, volume 38, no. 4 (October-December 2012): 32-36.

Harold Henderson, "Records and Methods in NGS Magazine," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 20 December 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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