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Analyzing Census Records: Math Matters!

22 January 2015
Do you calculate and apply "census math" correctly? If the 1850 census says that a man is 33 years old and we calculate that he was born in 1817, odds are ...

Citations: 10 Commandments for Intimidated Souls

19 January 2015
Most commandments are intimidating—but not these. These are designed to take the intimidation out of the citation process that causes so much angst and rebellion.

Citations: How Much Is Enough?

16 January 2015
History researchers frequently ask how much needs to be cited to support an assertion. If, say, we find an assertion in a journal article, a monograph on our topic, a generally reliable website, and a couple of original documents, do we have to cite them all? The answer is easy enough if ...

Tracking People Who Disappeared

13 January 2015
James Young, let us say, married Margaret Martin in 1810 in Pennsylvania, according to a pastor's daybook in the local university archives. (The names are fictitious, so don't rush off now to comb all your favorite online databases for Pennsylvania.) You have found no Pennsylvania record for the couple thereafter. ...What might you have done wrong or overlooked? ...

Are You Using John Smith's Latest Edition?

10 January 2015
A university-based scholar recently posted a message in an academic forum, invoking the first edition of a book with which I was rather involved in my history-student days.

Turning Records into Stepping Stones

7 January 2015
Each record that survives from the past represents a milestone in the lives of those involved. For us, as we explore history, each record should be a stepping stone to something more. More always lies beyond for those willing to ...

Historical 'Truth'

4 January 2015
History is not a collection of raw facts we simply look up and copy down. Nor can we peel away the layers of time to find the plain truth revealed. ...

D.O.C.U.M.E.N.T.A.T.I.O.N.

1 January 2015
It's a new year. You've made your resolutions, right? Of course, No. 1 is, "I shall—from this day forward and forevermore—provide complete and accurate documentation for all my research." Wonderful! But what, exactly, does this call for? ...

Provenance (A Two-Bit Word for "Is This Stuff Really Worth a Plug Nickel?")

29 December 2014
EE's discussions of many materials—from artifacts to databases, from records to digital images, and even traditions—encourage us to consider the provenance of the material we use. Simply put, the term means "chain of custody" or "history of ownership." Judging the validity of information provided by a source requires us to ...

Facts vs. Speculation vs. Interpretation

26 December 2014
Jack Webb, the famed Dragnet detective, consistently called for “Just the facts, Ma’am, just the facts.” That stance, a wise one for detectives, has its counterpart among historical researchers who recognize the difference between documented “facts,” speculation, and interpretation.

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