Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The shock of the difficult

A new task reminded me of how easy genealogy can seem when everyone is where they're supposed to be, the census records are consistent, and the births, marriages, and deaths are well recorded. When our research is concentrated in this zone it may be hard to understand why some people insist on complete and accurate source citations and written research reports.

And when we run into a problem in which everyone is NOT where they're supposed to be, when one census entry is missing and the other has wrong names and ages, and the necessary marriages just aren't there or involve the wrong people -- well, it can feel a lot like running full speed into a brick wall (even though Chris Staats makes a good case for abandoning that metaphor).

Citations and written reports and habits of skepticism are not about snobbery. They're more like genealogy insurance policies for that inevitable day when our ancestors enter the Dark Ages or otherwise suddenly become inscrutable.

Photo credit: Shaire Production's photostream on,, per Creative Commons.

Harold Henderson, "The shock of the difficult," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 18 September 2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Geolover said...

How about running full speed, not into a brick wall, but with a brick in each hand and two or three balanced on the head . . .