Saturday, November 30, 2013

"I used to do some of my best thinking at the clothesline"

Sometimes professional genealogists discuss whether they should hire people to do some of the more routine tasks involved in the work -- straightforward lookups, or some aspects of report creation. Although I'm in favor of job creation, I've never seriously considered this (except for faraway record retrievals).

Now I've come to realize why hiring this kind of help doesn't fit my style. Sometimes I notice new things when I have to mess around with data or formatting one more time -- creating an associates list, or looking through a census page by page, or just trying to find the right image in a multi-volume digitized record set. It reminds me of someone's lament from sixty years ago or so, when mechanical dryers were replacing the once-ubiquitous backyard clotheslines. Most housewives were happy to be liberated from capricious weather conditions and boring labor, but one of them did lament: "I used to do some of my best thinking at the clothesline."

At some levels, genealogy is all about rearranging random things and trying to see patterns in them (in order to have something to verify!). And sometimes I think better when I'm not trying to. If this is your pattern too, you may be better off with more routine tasks to perform!

elvissa's photostream, per Creative Commons

Harold Henderson, "'I used to do some of my best thinking at the clothesline,'" Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 November 2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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