My triangulation process

Working a relatively recent period in my ancestry allowed me to interview a few surviving family members but raised the curious problem of what to do when their memories clashed or, in some cases, were simply blank. These were good stories, often augmented by other materials such as letters, newspaper clippings, maps, and photos.

I decided to do what forest-fire lookouts do: triangulate, which means drawing visual lines across the landscape from each observation tower to the pillar of smoke itself. Something was going on there, and this is what each one saw.

In terms of the genealogy, different observers had their own biases to consider. And conditions and responses might vary along a timeline, so that what one remembered had changed drastically by the time another detailed.

The result (still unpublished and deeply personal) is, from my point of view, deliciously ambiguous in places. If anything, it makes the subjects more real and quirky.


How do you handle source materials that conflict? Do you give precedence to one over another? Do you accept them both? Do you play them off each other?


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