Source Materials- It’s almost magic!

I don’t know how it happens but it does, at least for me.

As I noted in an earlier post, not all source documents are easy to read. Often they are muddled, smudged, faded, and torn. Sometimes the authors had been quills, bad penmanship or unsteady hands.

Yet somehow this stuff is readable. Even when it’s not.

I know that sounds strange but I can assure you it is true. I don’t know how many times I have been pouring over documents looking for threads of information when suddenly in the midst of an illegible mass there appears a relative.

One particular case comes to mind. I was searching for a g-g-grandmother’s death record in an old Zeyer (German) Church Death Register. I had been going through pages and pages of poorly focused, blurry, palsied writings, where I swear the Pastor must have used his finger nails and not a quill to write the pages, when suddenly there she was! A friendly researcher sitting next to me heard me jump- we share that thrill at the Family History Center probably because we all work at little tables sitting in two neat lines in a very dark room.

I needed to be certain that I wasn’t just wishing something into this document, so I interrupted my neighbor’s train of thought, a second time, to ask for verification. Scarcely believing that I had just found something wonderful in this squiggly, blurry mass, I asked her if she could see what I saw; and she did. She saw my grandmother’s name, too.

Here’s the page and view…. what do you see? (click to get a larger image)

Esther Euphrosina Landig geb. Hein- death-1

I am not certain if magic is the right term. I don’t know why these things jump off the page at me and others. As person who spends a lot of time working with engineers and discussing physics, I guess I could attribute this to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle. Or, I could just be happy that I have found my g-g-grandmother.

I guess I’ll go with the latter.