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26 January 2009

Looking through 21st Century Glasses?

When interpreting a deceased ancestor or relative's actions, consider that they probably operated from a slightly different prespective. There are several important things to consider about your ancestor when trying to figure out what he or she did or why he or she acted in a given way.

What was your ancestor's educational level? What was his or her economic status at that point in time? What were their family obligations at that point in time? Was the ancestor isolated or did she have family support? Was your ancestor widowed with three children and no means of support? Did your ancestor have psychological or emotional problems? Was there a subtance abuse problem? Was your ancestor hiding something? How much do you know about your ancestor's "context?"

Keep in mind that you descend from your ancestor, but you are not your ancestor. Put yourself in their shoes. Take off your socks if necessary!

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