Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Eating the Crust of the Bread

I would guess that most of my grandchildren refuse to eat the crusts of slices of bread and the heels of the loaves are often not eaten or even thrown away. I see this a failure to come to grip with the reality of life, that is, life is mostly in the crust. Almost anything worth doing is difficult. But even when we have mostly overcome our childish propensity to leave the difficult tasks and only do the easy ones, we have to fight that tendency all of the time.

For example, we would like to believe that all that we need to know about our ancestors can be learned from the U.S. Census records, that is, the white air bread centers of our genealogical loaves. This reminds of the reaction of some of my grandchildren to some "12 grain bread" we had for dinner. There was quite a controversy over what each of the ingredients might be and whether or not the ingredients were "acceptible" for consumption. In the end, they refused to eat any of it.

When do we know we are "eating the crust" so to speak? I believe it is when we begin extending ourselves into new areas we have never researched before; such as learning German Black Letter Script or studying out 16th Century parish registers. In the U.S. it may be learning about probate or beginning to understand land records. In every case, moving into a new area of research is like eating the crusts of our research loaves. One thing I can say is that after a while, you will begin with the crust and relish it for its consistency and nourishment. You may even go on to eat 12 grain bread!


  1. Interesting post, but there's nothing wrong with cutting off the crust of your bread.

  2. I'm still mostly concentrating on the "white bread" (or the "low-hanging fruit") because there is so much of it to cover. But the word I used above is "concentrating." I am also venturing out into other fields (for example Netherlands local records for one emigrant branch).
    And I don't know about others, but for me, the census before 1850 (the first every-name census) is a new field. The research there is very different!
    Thanks for the thought-provoking ideas.

  3. I love 12 Grain, but it takes a while to get your system used to it. I am diving in, one bite at a time though. I am mostly a white bread researcher at the moment, but the further I get the more excited I get about the richer stuff just waiting to be dug into! Thanks for the post - I love your analogies. I am an analogy thinker and I will look at my lunchtime sandwich a bit differently tomorrow. :)