Friday, August 26, 2016

Things To Keep In Mind When Researching

Busy is not a big enough word to describe these last few weeks.  Thus, I've gotten behind...again....

As my research experience grows, there are lots of things to remember and keep in mind.  There are too many to keep in my head, so figured I'd share them.  Many of these are key concepts conveyed by many well-known researchers.  And, just like everything else in life, these are not hard and fast rules because there is always an exception to something.

This is by no means a complete list, and I heartily invite others to share their words of wisdom, lessons learned and any helpful hints.  Researching Genealogy and Family History is a journey and sometimes the hike can be a challenge!

  • As J. Mark Lowe so eloquently puts it, "Go from the known to the unknown".  I think about that phrase often and cannot endorse it enough. Slow and methodical research produces more productive results.
  • Think and dwell on the information.  Consider the time, place, people involved.  I've always heard the phrase 'put yourself in their shoes' or 'unless you have walked in their shoes, you wouldn't understand'.  I believe that applies to our research as well. We also have to keep in mind that we really don't know what we would do until we are actually in that situation.  All we can really say is what we think we would do - which may or may not be what we would do if we were actually in the situation.  Our ancestors were just like us-if threatened, they may or may not have fought back-we cannot judge, because we were not there, in their shoes at that time.  Judging tend to close ones mind to other thoughts/feelings etc.  
  •  It is a challenge 'reigning in an open mind'-we have to be open enough to think inside and outside the box AND know which side of the box is more likely the side taken.  
  • Taking a break and revisiting later can often reveal things we didn't catch during the previous review.  Little, key clues, may not reveal themselves until we are ready to look at them.
  • Note to self-don't forget to check laws, maps, disasters, epidemics, wars, terrain and most especially, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, newspapers etc   
  • Broaden the research - don't stop at the typical sources (i.e. Family Search, Ancestry, Archives etc) and don't forget to go back and check typical sources.
Phew, that is enough for a start!  AND, those are just some of things I need to keep in mind to keep me on my toes.  Believe it or not, the majority of the time, the answer is out there somewhere!  Happy Researching!

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