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24 May 2013

Seeing What You Expect

When eating out recently with my parents, my dad thought he recognized a cousin of his and so he asked the lady if she was so-and-so and introduced himself. She acknowledged who she was and then, much to my surprise, said to him "I thought you looked like a Neill." I have never thought of my Dad as bearing much resemblance to his father's family as he bears a much stronger resemblance to his mother's family. Part of that for me is that my Dad's father passed away before I was old enough to even remember him.

The point of this tip is that it is easy to see in a document, a family relationship, or a research problem that which we are familiar or that which we expect to see. If my grandfather had lived as long as my grandmother, I might see him more in my father than I do and that reminds me that I always need to remember that there may be sometimes be clues in records that I'm not seeing because I am too busy looking for what I know to be there.

1 comment:

  1. This is so very, very true. Thanks for the reminder.