18 December 2013

Event Focused Genealogy -- are you taking advantage of this research tool?

Sometimes, if we change our view on how we look at things, we “see” something different.

Much of our perspective as we do genealogy and family history research is to focus on the people – while making note of details on where, when and what.  This isn’t always sufficient to fully capture the information to be found in the records of events identified in our research.  After all, our family trees don’t show the “FAN club” we may have identified.

I was reminded of this when I read a post last month by Tony Proctor titled Eventful Genealogy.  As he says ...

The Event is one of the most undervalued entities in a family-history (or any history) collection. Excessive emphasis is usually placed on the Person entity, and virtually none at all on the Place entity. Read how the Event is crucial to binding our information to create a coherent description of the past.

Because of this issue, I frequently create matrices so that I can pull out information from events that extend across often several family lines which are sometimes related via marriage or birth and sometimes just related via geography, business connections, or otherwise. 

We need to be “open” to exploring different ways of examining/presenting the information we acquire.  Though we are often challenged just to find data and information about our ancestors, their lives and the historical context in which they lived, we can also be greatly challenged to exhaustively and properly analyze the data.  Understanding the events in our ancestors’ lives and the context of those events historically, might significantly influence our interpretation of found information.

After all, though people may create history, historic events often shape how they respond.  History doesn’t happen without people.

Has switching your perspective to events vs people resulted in a eureka moment for your research?

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