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Reconstructing the Lives of Yesteryear’s Women

Finding records for females in the past is a special problem. Prior to the twentieth century, as a rule, menfolk typically created the family records. A wife usually was not entitled to act in her own stead, and a respectable unmarried woman seldom dared. When a public record was required for her, a brother, father, or guardian was expected to handle such affairs for her. Today, we offer 6 tips for teasing yesteryear’s women out of the shadows in which they lived:

Tracking Elusive People through the Past

Research problems are rarely solved by simply learning what records exist and where to find—then looking for names in those records. Most tough problems are solved by spotting connections and patterns between seemingly unrelated things. Here are seven tips guaranteed to sharpen your skills at tracking elusive people through past times. ...

A Proof Argument? Why Bother?

18 March 2015
A recent discussion of proof arguments triggered a common question: Why can’t we just ‘let the documents do the talking’? Unfortunately, documents don’t talk. They may lie, but they do not talk and they cannot ...

What Does a Citation Prove?

15 March 2015
When we extract a “fact” from a source and we cite that source in our research notes, we feel so virtuous, don’t we? Our inner self reaches out and pats us on the back. “Atta girl! Way to go! Keep up this good stuff!” Truth it, citing sources doesn’t mean ...

When Do I Use Parentheses in a Citation? (Psst! Not This Way!)

9 March 2015
In citations to published works, parentheses are used to set off "publication data." When citing a magazine or journal article ...

Reasonably Exhaustive Research: Quantity or Quality?

12 March 2015
To reach a sound conclusion about any historical event of person, our first criteria is reasonably exhaustive research. However, this does not mean that quantity assures accuracy. Quantity and quality are entirely different critters and quantity can never trump quality. For the history researcher who has no living firsthand witnesses to interview ...

The Source of the Source, of Course, of Course

6 March 2015
EE user Simon (aka “Nomis”) poses a question that puzzles many researchers. When we cite a source that cites its own source, we introduce that second layer of our citation with the word "citing." But, Simon asks, what exactly should come after that? What details need to be included? ...

Citing Facebook. Really?

3 March 2015
Resources change. Habits change. Venues change. Societies change. So we adapt. “How do I cite a Facebook post?” is a question we hear frequently. When we answer it online we also see the inevitable ...

Cleveland, Ohio, ... Cleveland, Ohio, ... Cleveland, Ohio ...

27 February 2015
Our last post considered the subject of useful redundancy. Before we abandon this track, let's turn the train around and head it in the other direction. Whether it's Cleveland in Ohio we're writing about or anywhere else on the globe, a reader's train of thought will stall in the weeds when it hits the state of Pointless Redundancy. ... So, what's the rule for identifying place names? ...

Precision in Writing & Reporting

24 February 2015
Grammarphobia, the delightful blog by two writers who spent years in the editorial trenches at the New York Times, was recently asked: "Is 'close proximity' redundant?" We'll let you read for yourself their take on the subject, but we'll crib one line and build upon it ...

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