What It Is Not

When you have reached a genealogical conclusion, it’s always good to include the records, their citations, and the reasoning you used to reach that conclusion.

It’s also good to track what something is “not” along with the reasons why.

A relative sent me a 1917 picture of my Newman ancestor that included her two living siblings at the time–taken when the brother was celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary. There was writing on the back and she included a scan of that writing as well.

She then included what I felt was an important comment which essentially said “I don’t know whose writing this is on the back but it’s not Mom’s and it’s not Grandma’s.” That was a good thing for me to know. The cousin would have recognized her mother’s handwriting and knew her grandmother well enough to recognize her handwriting. Knowing whose writing it was not was helpful to me.

Of course I would love to know whose handwriting it actually was–but that may never be known.

But sometimes just knowing what is “not” is better than knowing nothing. And when you know what you don’t know you should track how it is that you don’t know it.

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