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a bonitinha — faces in the streets

Some years ago Chico Doria, a Brazilian mathematician and genealogist, wrote “One of my distant 15th-century ancestors was a canon who used to fool around with Angela Mendes, ‘a bonitinha,’ The Pretty One. I’m fascinated by her; I sometimes try to find out her face in the faces that I see in the streets.”

Chico’s words are humanistic genealogy at its best. After all, the subject of our interest is people. We cannot and should not prefer those we find only on paper (or on parchment, or in stone) to those inhabiting this world with us now, all of whose blood we share. Some genealogists do not seem particularly interested in, or particularly good at dealing with, living people. But the connections between the living and the dead are far stronger and more complex than we realize.

Search the faces. She is there.

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