EE's blog


Analyzing Census Records: Context Matters!

31 January 2015
A census record is a snapshot, a blink of a lens on one day, freezing in time a person or a family. Still, there is much more that we can glean from a census if we make it a habit to always analyze our person-of-interest in community context. To do otherwise, is to snip one negative from a roll of historic film and assume that the other negatives on that roll are totally unrelated subjects. For starters, we should ...

Sources 101

28 January 2015
Sources come in endless types, but six basic rules apply to using all of them:

Sources, Lemons, and Red Herrings

25 January 2015
Sources may be lemons, and citations can be red herrings. No matter how appealingly they've been plated, when you sense a problem, don't ignore it. Records come in ...

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. ...