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07 February 2012

It Is All About Context

Years ago a fellow researcher located a baptismal entry for a family who had their child while living a distance from other family members. The researcher only copied the entry for the one child, not looking at any other entries. The couple only had one child baptized in that specific church. 

Because of the way the baptismal record was written, the researcher concluded that the child was born out of wedlock.

When I viewed the microfilmed records myself years later to get a better copy, I noticed that the relative's entry was not unusual at all--in fact it followed the same format used by the pastor in all the baptismal entries. There was nothing irregular about the child's birth or baptism.

Always look at entries in context. Picking out just one may cause you to see things that simply are not there. 


1 comment:

  1. I really like this one, Michael. Looking at context is critical in many areas of research. Thanks, again, for what you do for each of us. ;-)

    ReplyDelete