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People's lives are inherently messy, no matter how short or how long and
trying to completely quantify a life is probably unattainable. Even
huge biographies, like Carl Sandburg's Abraham Lincoln do not do justice
to a life. So what can we hope to accomplish as genealogists? How much
information is enough? Where do we stop? Or do we ever stop in
collecting information? If you are like me, you will always believe that
there is one more document and one more place to look. The surprising
thing is, that this is usually and almost always correct. There always
is at least one more document and at least one more place to look. In
the sense that the information we obtain is never absolute, that is
complete, without qualification and totally unconditioned, given this
definition no genealogical research can be absolute.

In that sense, there is also always some additional information that may
be available to be known. There may be one more place to research and
look, if we only had the time and resources. Before we even approach
some absolute, we recognize that are time and space limitations on our
ability to obtain additional information. Of course, from a practical
standpoint, you can't keep finding new and unexplored documents about
people in the very distant past. The documents might exist, but finding
them without unlimited resources becomes an extremely remote
possibility. But in any event, you can never assume that you have
reached some absolute end of the available records or information that
might be gleaned from another source.


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Comment by William S Dean on September 18, 2010 at 10:27am
Very well put, James. I enjoy your blog posts, particularly the ones about the practical process of genealogy.




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