Many families have stories about relatives who disappeared. Typically, these relatives left their homes and immigrated to another country, but somewhere along the line they seemed to vanish. Although apparent disappearances can be caused by holes in the historical records, assumptions made by genealogical researchers are often the cause. Consequently, a research approach focused on recognizing and challenging these assumptions can lead to positive results. Specific examples in this presentation are taken primarily from an article series about disappearing Swedes being published in the Swedish American Genealogist, but the principles apply to all immigrant groups.
Presented live at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City as part of the Joy Reisinger Memorial Lecture Series, and sponsored by the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
Dr. Martha J. Garrett, PhD, CG, came to genealogy from an earlier professional life as a researcher and research trainer. After being educated in the United States (BA, Wellesley College; PhD, UNC-Chapel Hill), she moved to Sweden, where she took an additional degree in library science and IT. Since then she has taught at Swedish universities, as well as running workshops in 40 countries and serving as consultant to international agencies. Her specialty has been training graduate students and professionals on various aspects of research, including literature searches, research designs, data collection and analysis, research ethics, and academic writing and publication. She has published dozens of refereed journal articles, as well as books commissioned by UNESCO and WHO. As a genealogist, she not only takes clients but also continues to do academic research. Among her favourite puzzles are tracing Swedish immigrants who “vanished” in America and identifying those who appeared there with unclear identities.