In genealogy there is a chasm. On one side of the chasm, genealogy is easy. On the other side, genealogy is hard.
On one side of the chasm are the ancestors and relatives we know personally. We know them as people. We grew up with them or with our parents talking about them. On the other side are ancestors and relatives that we know only through records.
On one side of the chasm we utilized living memory—our own and our loved ones.’ On the other side we utilized records.
On one side of the chasm are the modern census and vital records that uniquely identify individuals and relationships. On the other side records are incomplete, spotty, illegible, unindexed, hard-to-locate, or offline. Records are indispensably helpful, though seldomly so.
On one side of the chasm we blithely used direct evidence. On the other side, we painstakingly categorize, compare, contrast, correlate, and cite direct, indirect, contradictory, and negative evidence.
In genealogy there is a chasm. Before the chasm we thought genealogy was easy. After the chasm, do we forget it once was so?