Friday, January 22, 2016

The genealogy of fairy tales

From 3 Quarks Daily, one of the great aggregator sites, I learned that numerous stories have been traced back thousands of years -- "not quite tales as old as time, but perhaps as old as wheels and writing," writes Ed Yong in The Atlantic. The oldest one the Durham University investigators have found is about 6,000 years old. Did your ancestor hear it told? Check it out.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Looking back on 2015 writing and prospects for 2016

Last year, with the help of kind editors and colleagues, I published a dozen genealogy articles (four in peer-reviewed journals) and six book reviews. The full list is at Midwest Roots.

I experimented with "double-decker" publishing, following a problem-solving article about an eastern Indiana Smith family in NGS Quarterly with the full genealogical summary of the family in later issues of Indiana Genealogist. (BTW, one needs a long running start to do this. I have been puzzling over this family for six years!) And I experimented with a "review essay" which appeared in the December NGSQ.

And I've had fun with a series of short methodology articles on indirect evidence, negative evidence, and historical context in the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.

Early 2015 saw the long-awaited publication of La Porte County, Indiana, Early Probate Records, 1833-1850 with Genealogical Publishing Co., a joint production with Dorothy Germain Palmer and Mary Leahy Wenzel -- one of the few such books containing a nearly-every-name index of the probate materials, so that early La Porte researchers can track non-decedents in these records. Proceeds go to our genealogical society, of which Dorothy is president.

I also changed professional focus from client research to client editing. The plan is to spend more time on writing (and more on specific problems and families), and less time on committee work, speaking, and (sigh) blogging. I hope 2016 -- or the 11 1/2 months of it that remain -- will be good for y'all, with publications and credentials galore.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Reading Two Top Genealogy Books Together

The best two books for serious genealogists are Thomas W. Jones's Mastering Genealogical Proof  and Robert Charles Anderson's Elements of Genealogical Analysis.

But they are different enough in their emphases and terminology that reading both may induce vertigo. My review essay in the December 2015 National Genealogical Society Quarterly may help. (Jones co-edits the Quarterly but was not involved in the editing of this piece.) It is free on line to NGS members and available at good genealogy libraries.

And if the review essay doesn't float your boat, enjoy the substantial articles by Laurel T. Baty (AL, GA, NC), Ronald A. Hill (Cornwall), and annual writing contest winner William A. Cox (VA, PA).

And if these don't float your boat either, well . . . back in the 1700s Samuel Johnson said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." I would venture an update: "If you're tired of NGSQ, you're tired of genealogy."

“Review Essay: How to Solve Genealogy Problems, and How to Know When They Have Been Solved: A Guide to Elements of Genealogical Analysis and Mastering Genealogical Proof,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 103 (December 2015): 304-308