Monday, March 31, 2014

Methodology Monday (NYGBR) with hair and William Mackey

Nineteenth-century American young women often made "hair scrapbooks," preserving locks of hair from friends and relatives along with inscriptions or poems. In the January 2014 New York Genealogical and Biographical Record Patricia A. Metsch uses one entry in such a book to distinguish one William Mackey (1786-1864) from another (1793?-1860) and to identify their parents. Sources don't come much rarer than this. (Yes, the article cites a book about it.)

Making the case requires additional evidence, some of which connects William to two brothers. It also involves acknowledging and analyzing some information that doesn't quite fit. Ultimately William's birth family is listed as "probable" -- not a bar to publication once the situation and the evidence are well explained.

Patricia A. Metsch, "Identifying the Parents of William H. Mackey (1786-1864) of Rensselaerville, Albany County, New York," New York Genealogical and Biographical Record 145 (2014):5-24.

Harold Henderson, "Methodology Monday (NYGBR) with hair and William Mackey," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 31 March 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

1 comment:

Lois said...

Fascinating - and it gives me another idea for a book! ;-}