Family History Alphabet: M is for Mental Gymnastics, Maths and Mothers


Family History AlphabetMy theme for the Family History through the Alphabet is the Attributes we need as family historians: the skills, experience and talents we need to bring to our research. Week 13 is in the middle of the alphabet and brings us the letter M.

M is for MENTAL GYMNASTICS: I guess this is appropriate for the half-way mark and in the midst of the London Olympics. Not only does our mind get a work-out with learning and acquiring new skills, but we need to become proficient gymnasts. Triple back flips with twists are often required to resolve our challenging problems.

M is for MATHS:

What’s maths got to do with it? Well it certainly helps if we understand some basic maths given that money drove many of the documents we need to track down, whether taxes, land purchases, probate etc.  As if that’s not enough we will probably have to deal with conversions from pounds, shillings and pence (in the UK or elsewhere) and acres, roods and perches to hectares. Not to mention trying to assess what an amount from the 19th century converts to in current economic value.

M is for MONEY: Okay, not exactly an attribute but we surely do need some spare reserves of money if we’re to pursue this obsession of ours and to know how to be canny in making it go as far as possible.

M is for MATERNAL ANCESTORS: tracing our female ancestors can be trickier because they don’t always appear in formal documents. It’s up to us to give them equal air time and find ways of telling their stories that goes beyond the standard genealogical conventions.

I’d like to add M is for MORTALITY: the survival rates of our ancestors, but then again it’s not a researcher attribute.

Do you have other M word additions to our suite of attributes?

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15 thoughts on “Family History Alphabet: M is for Mental Gymnastics, Maths and Mothers

  1. I would never have come up with Mental Arithmatic and Mathslv, but you are so right. I am hopeless at working out the simple calculations involved in finding someone’s birth year from their age in the British census – it’s the 1841, 1851 etc. that confuses me (so much easier if the census was 1840 etc). I invariably have to do a scribble sum. – a dreadul admission to make . given my education!

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  2. Multi-tasking is the only extra one that comes to my mind. Not so much that we’re doing different tasks at once (although these days you fit in research whenever you can), but rather remembering info from different families that you’re working on. And I have to agree with all those you’ve listed, together with Fi’s Motivated. All very relevant attributes for genealogy.

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  3. Pingback: Family History Through the Alphabet - M is for ... | Genealogy & History News

  4. I’ve sometimes had to chuck in a “pike” re: the gymnastics… or is that diving? :-D Can relate to all of your Mm’s Pauleen and especially the “Maternal Ancestors”. They sure do need and deserved our focus as women are so often “invisibilised” in the recording of all history, including family history.

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    • Can’t advise on the gymnastics/diving terms Catherine…not a fan of summer Olympics (I love the winter Olympics though!). We’re on the same page with the women ancestors but they do take some sleuthing. After all we’ve got a much better bet of knowing accurately our female ancestors than our male :-)

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