Proving Identity

 
 
 

 

2 November 2014

The identity of each and every historical person is proved at the intersection of their persona, their relationships, and their origin. How do we find that intersection?

PERSONA is the composite we create by reconstructing the full course of a human life, by considering all the elements that make this person unique, and by thoroughly researching other same-name people of the place and time to sort them correctly.

RELATIONSHIPS are the links we forge by studying all known associates and placing the person into the context of his or her community and family.

ORIGIN is a conclusion we reach by (a) demonstrating that any direct statements about origin actually apply to the person we are researching and not some other same-name person; (b) proving that any such direct statements are indeed correct; and, more often, (c) by placing the person amid a common migration pattern with associates and kin.

All these points are expanded upon in our QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process, available as a 4-page laminated study guide or Kindle download.