When I was young I was often fascinated with the visual effect of
staring through a window screen. If you focused your eyes just right,
the screen could appear to be a solid surface. But if you looked beyond
the screen, the outside world became visible. Sometimes in research,
especially in genealogy, we need to see through the screen to the larger
world outside of our family. Once we have seen the world, we can then
refocus on the screen (our family) with renewed insight. Most of our
"brick walls" are really window screens in disguise.
No one lives in vacuum. One question was raised recently by a friend
about his immigrant ancestor. His own personal brick wall. It turns out
that this particular ancestor is Norwegian and immigrated in the latter
part of the 1800s. Knowing the extent of genealogical records from
Norway and other Scandinavian countries, I expressed surprised at his
dilemma. To him, the Norwegian immigrant was a brick wall, to me, the
immigrant was immediately a window screen. He was focusing on the
screen, I immediately focused on the world beyond.Read more...