Yes, folks, I’m afraid it’s true. I’m here to make another analogy – the latest in a long line of analogies: puzzles, jalopies, basketball…and now sea exploration.
Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic in 1985. He produced a documentary, “Save the Titanic” timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of its sinking. To promote the show, he appeared on the Colbert Report, which you can view below. I found his description of how he found the Titanic, the approach he used — particularly applicable to our field of genealogy. The interesting part starts at about 1:45. On a side note, I’ve also used diversionary tactics very similar to the one he describes in the video. I pretend to be going someplace for one thing, when I am really going there for genealogy. Except in my case, I am trying to fool my wife, not the Russians.
I thought the “following the debris trail” comments particularly appropriate. Too often in genealogy we are anxious to find “more about John Doe.” This vaguely defined goal leads us to a series of criss-crossing, double-tracking searches that waste much time and effort and often result in not finding what we are looking for. If instead we start at the first clue, which is often a death record in our case, and methodically work our way through the “debris trail” – the records left in reverse chronology by our John Doe, seeking and noting patterns and tendencies, we are more likely to arrive at the correct origins of our John Doe than had we suddenly started running in mad circles once we found our first clue.
And the deer hoof print comments? Brilliant. Kinda sounds like using indirect evidence to find your ancestors, doesn’t it?
Leave your a comment below about your thoughts on the comparisons (genealogy to ship-finding, not the Russians to my wife).