Monday, June 30, 2014

Methodology Monday: Is a good memory a method?

This morning Jill Morelli's excellent blog post reminded me of one of the six qualities Donald Lines Jacobus required of a good professional genealogist: "Ability to grasp and retain an infinite amount of detail."

The idea that a genealogist (or anyone) needs to know lots of facts was more fashionable 80 years ago than now, when we can always look things up on line. But the reason to have them in our heads is to be able to flag things as we see them and make the connection.

Some examples from a set of records recently viewed. What would you suspect about the parents, or the place, or the time of birth, if you found a child with one of these given names?

W. H. H.
Wilbur Orville
Byron Garfield (1880s)
James Blaine
Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Raymond Roosevelt (1899)

The more we know, the more we can learn.

Do you have more obscure examples? Share them in the comments!

Harold Henderson, "Methodology Monday: Is a good memory a method?," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 June 2014 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Sonja Hunter said...

I have an Isaac Newton Taylor and my husband has a James Knox Polk Davis.

Another example is what happened to me just yesterday. While looking in old newspapers for information on slaughterhouses, I saw a notice in the paper and recognized the name of a distant relative in my database. It turns out the man had almost died falling off a cart stacked with straw bales.

Geolover said...

"Daniel D. T. Sxxxx" was a puzzler until discovery of NY Governor Daniel D. Tompkins.

Other State Governors have been inspirations for names that seem not to be "family." It is always worth looking at a list.

Lisa Gorrell said...

In the south, I've seen a lot of boys with the first and middle names of Jefferson Davis.