Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Shattered Mirrors and Genealogy

Last night I was reading a mystery and came across a passage spoken by the lead detective regarding his case that caught my attention:

"If you look upon this case as being like a shattered mirror, you'll see what I mean." . . . "Yes. When Meyer died the mirror was broken and all the pieces flew off in many directions. What we've been doing since is collecting those pieces. It is my belief that we have all, or nearly all of them now. The problem that remains, however, is, without having any idea about its size or shape, we have to fit all those pieces back together again to produce one whole mirror." [Barbara Nadel, Belshazzar's Daughter, 1st U.S. ed., (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2004), p. 178.]

As I began to ponder the quote, I saw some parallels to some of our research in genealogy. When an ancestor dies, we no longer have the information about our family that person knew in one piece. We have to take a record here and a record there to try to piece back what that person knew about himself and his family. We have to make sure that the pieces we gather are in their right places, but it isn't always an easy task. We use the Genealogical Proof Standard to guide us as we are reassembling that mirror of our ancestor's life.


  • What a great quote. Though in genealogy, I don't think we'll ever have all or nearly all the pieces. If we're lucky, perhaps we get half of the pieces and try to see what the picture looks like by assembling those.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

    By Blogger Jim S, at 6:58 AM  

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