Saturday, May 27, 2017


Does anyone read the initial post on a blog? In my experience, I discover a new blog and start reading the current posts. I rarely dig through the archives to understand the blog's genesis and early history. Nevertheless, it feels odd to start without a bit of introduction.

So who am I, and what will you find here?

My name is Keith Arnold Smith. As you'll see in future posts, the middle name is a significant connection to my family history. I'm a middle-aged computer systems researcher living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In my day job, I design data storage and data management systems and occasionally write academic papers about them.

When I'm not wrangling bits, I'm stalking ancestors. I've been researching my family history for several years now.  That means that I'm still inexperienced and still have a lot to learn. But I got a bit of a head start from my mother-in-law, Rhoda Elliott Horne. She spent decades researching her own ancestors, as well as those of all of her sons-in-law and any other friend or neighbor who expressed an interest.

Between my job and genealogy, I spend a lot of time in front of computers. But you might also find me in the kitchen baking bread, on the sofa with a crossword puzzle, on the streets of Cambridge taking a walk and listening to an audiobook, or hanging out with my wife and daughter.

Despite my technical background, I don't plan to spend much of time here talking about the use of computers for genealogy. I love my job, but I do enough technical writing at the office. Instead I'm planning to discuss the things I have learned in my research, including:
  • Stories from the lives of my relatives. I'll include a number of direct ancestors, but I'll also talk a good bit about cousins off on distant branches.
  • Bits of history connected with my family. I initially got started in genealogy because I wanted to know who my ancestors were. I soon discovered that knowing who they were pulls me into the history of the times and places where they lived. I've always enjoyed history, but history with family angle is doubly interesting!
  • Stories about the research process. Sometimes how I find information about a relative is more interesting than the relative. For example, someday I will explain how a brief mention of a gold watch in the will of Charles Hitchcock led me to a previously undiscovered branch of cousins.
  • Personal perspective and philosophy. I have opinions. Sometimes in reading other blogs, I find myself saying, "That's interesting, I wish I had a place to follow-up with more than a comment." Now I do.
My life is busy, but I hope to post a few times a month. At that rate, I have ideas and material for at least a year or two. If I last that long, we'll see what comes next. I'm always discovering new things about my family. So I'm sure I'll find more topics.

By the way, in case you're wondering: yes, the name Tree and Leaf is taken from J.R.R. Tolkien. No, I'm not related to him.