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Why Genealogy and Biography are Not Kin

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Chapter Summary

Genealogy is distinguished by the fact that it has as an ultimate goal the gathering together of biographica. The importance of genealogy has somewhat diminished in the modern state of affairs. If one considers the book by the Dutch historian A.Th. van Deursen concerning the North Holland village of Graft, then one can see how important genealogy can be. In biography, the story and its construction are important; in genealogy they are not. Genealogy is exclusively and solely determined by sources; biography relies on sources but is determined by theoretical issues. This leads the reader to another important distinction: biography is synthesizing and interpretative, while genealogy creates inventories and is descriptive. Genealogy recognizes two more or less theoretical themes: generation research and degeneration research. Biography is to genealogy as the 'sum' is to the 'parts'.

Keywords: A.Th. van Deursen; biography; degeneration research; genealogy; generation research

10.1163/9789004274709_020
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