Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Why I Write About My Own Families

Regular readers of Casefile Clues know that I only write about ancestors (or relatives) of my children. There are several reasons for this, but they all boil down to the fact that I think it makes Casefile Clues the best how-to magazine I could put together.

One of the things I do regularly in Casefile Clues is analyze documents. Sometimes just one document is analyzed, sometimes a series of documents from a casefile or packet of papers are analyzed. Oftentimes to completely analyze these documents as accurately as possible, it is necessary to have a fairly good knowledge of the family. That would be difficult to do if I wrote about different families all the times, particularly ones I had not researched. An excellent example is issue 16 of volume 2 which is coming out. I could have easily analyzed a different probate order and series of records, but much of the commentary on the names would have been difficult if I had not already researched the family.

I don't Casefile Clues to be a "grab one document about a family you don't know and discuss it." While sometimes that can be helpful and instructive, I think knowing information about the family helps to analyze the material more completely and accurately. It also helps in interpreting things that might be easy to misunderstand.

We are also going to continue to focus on problems that are "in progress." I think it's instructive to see research as it progresses, not just the finished product. While I realize that even "finished research" is never done, most how-to material either discusses records in general or summarizes a completed project. Here at Casefile Clues, we like things "half-baked" (grin).

In the near future, we'll see how I am pretty certain I am on the right track with Benjamin Butler in 1850. There is some documentation that hints I'm in the right direction and that I have located him in 1850. Research needs to firm up the connection, but at least what I have found so far does not indicate the "wrong" person has been found.

We'll see how our analysis of Thomas Chaney's pre-1850 census entries compares to other information on his children.

And we'll have follow ups on a few other people we have not discussed in a while. We'll also look at some documents recently released on Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

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