Dr. Thomas W. Jones, Ancestor Sleuth Extraordinaire

I attended the Seattle Genealogical Society Fall Seminar yesterday where I had the privilege of listening to Thomas W. Jones talk about finding solutions to your toughest research problems. As always, Mr. Jones is informative and entertaining.

I will admit that I’m not the most patient person and sitting all day in a hard chair isn’t my idea of a good time. But yesterday ended much too soon. I heard a ton of information through case studies. Mr. Jones started with a session called ‘Can a Complex Research Problem Be Solved Solely Online?’ and followed that with ‘Five Ways to Prove Who Your Ancestor Was’. And then it was time for lunch. How did that happen? Time just flew by while we listened to problems and research methodologies used to solve those problems.

The sessions after lunch were just as riveting.

The first session was on Inferential Genealogy. He talked about accepting vs determining kinships and walked us through another case study that had us all thinking WOW! Using a list of 13 research principles on how to infer kinship accurately he untangled a mystery of incorrectly identified parents using land records and other evidence found. Mr. Jones’s take away was Write and Document your conclusions and ALWAYS use Footnotes!

The last session was ‘Solving the Mystery of the Disappearing Ancestor’. The notes I bolded and underlined were:
– Remember the Collaterals
– Consider all possibilities
– Always be skeptical
– Corroborate your findings

Although much of the day I thought Mr. Jones was performing magic it really boils down to intelligent and well thought out research plans. Oh, and a large dose of curiosity never hurts!

If you ever have a chance to see Dr. Thomas W. Jones in person make sure you take the time to listen to his pearls of wisdom. I know I will again.

Dame sheila

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