Don’t Cry About the SSDI

Last spring we did a two part series on the Social Security Death Index and it progenitor, the Death Master File. The posts are here and here. The series was prompted in part by reports of errors in the Death Master file, especially those which reported living persons as deceased. We learned that nearly 90% of the information in the …Continue reading →


Getting Back to Some Hard Genealogy

It took a near-disaster in the form of a hard disk failure to bring me back to doing some basic genealogy. I took me a week to recover and reassemble my files, which had been backed up onto three different systems. The redundancy was a fortunate thing born out of some lethargy in organization. As a fortuitous happenstance, I lost …Continue reading →


Reference Review: African-American Genealogy at a Glance

Just the other morning, a young protege was saying that her research seemed unfocused and that she thought she needed to go someplace other than her usual research venues. I talked a few ideas with her. Then, the next day, I received a review copy of Genealogy at a Glance: African American Genealogy Research. My protege’s dilemma was solved (almost)! …Continue reading →


God Bless . . .


September 11, 2001: All History is Personal

[Prologue: The following is merely a rendition of my personal experience on September 11, 2001. It is not particularly poignant or profound; merely observational. There are no stories of extraordinary heroism or the like. It is, however, a bit out of context, since like all historical pieces, it’s part of a larger story about being in Washington–that is, official “Washington,” …Continue reading →


Welcome The Catholic Gene

This morning, I awakened to things usual and brand-new! The usual thing was that my mother-in-law, aged 90, was up and watching Mother Angelica on EWTN [Eternal Word Television Network; Comcast channel 233 in the Greater Sacramento area]. (My mother-in-law’s family has been Catholic since at least 1722; which I believe is about when  Mother Angelica commenced her television ministry!) …Continue reading →


African-Native American Research: A Chat with Author Nita Ighner

A few years ago, I came across a blog entitled “Diggin’ Up Bones.” It was extremely well done, recording the research odyssey of its author, Nita Ighner. Her journey took her to the Carolinas where she learned some very interesting things about her family history. She did archival research as well oral history–all quite impressive. Ighner is a college professor …Continue reading →


A Couple of Exciting Genealogy Events: Save These Dates!

Here are a couple of exciting upcoming events: Saturday, October 15, 2011: Family History Day at the California State Archives in Sacramento. This will be the 13th annual Family History Day at the State Archives located at 1020 O St. in Sacramento.  In addition to the Archives staff, there will be a number of local societies represented and several vendors. …Continue reading →


“All History is Personal:” August 1961

US Tank at Ckpt Charlie

The year 1961 was eventful for several reasons.  It marked the centennial of the Civil War, the first manned space flights, the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, and the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, among other events. In August, 1961, my father, then a captain in the United States Army, was sent on temporary duty from his post in …Continue reading →


The Reliability of Oral Histories–The Forensic Approach to Evaluation

Part 2 of a three-part series.  Part 1 is here. When last we met, we explored the issues associated with the reliability of “eyewitness testimony” in court and applied similar concepts to first-person accounts of historical and genealogical events. We discovered several issues that might make “eyewitness testimony” unreliable. Now we explore the 21st century approach to eyewitness testimony and …Continue reading →

August 2015
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