Genealogy Sleuth Work: Focus of the Book
Much of what we do in research involves the sources where we find information. However, the level of our success may well depend on the quality of our methods. Methods determine (1) whether we get the most benefit from the sources, (2) whether we make decisions that can propel our research toward answers, and (3) whether our efforts exhibit high standards of quality. The process naturally divides itself into compartments of activity that are the focus of this book:
* organizing for the search
* focusing on the question at hand
* planning the search
* gathering and documenting adequate data
* interpreting and analyzing the results
* evaluating the big picture to determine where you are in your research and where to go next
* repeating the process for a new part of the search
These steps are things we do over and over again as we research. Even after long experience and even if the process has become second nature to us, it is helpful to review the steps when we begin to research a new line or new project.
Appropriately, Agatha Christie's Captain Hastings once said of the eccentric Hercule Poirot: "That is the worst of Poirot. Order and Method are his gods. He goes so far as to attribute all his success to them."3 We can learn from Poirot even if we never approach his extraordinary ability.
If you are new to genealogy or feel that you need a refresher about the very basic tenets of genealogy and research, please stop here and read appendix A on page 203. We will wait here for you, and you will benefit more from the rest of the book once you have that background.