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Doing Some Unresearch

By Daniel Hubbard | June 27, 2010

There is a little bit of unresearch I like to do every so often. It can be a simple what-if or a real exercise in going through my records, notes and thinking.

It is not hard to get the idea. You experiment with the life of an ancestor that you think you understand fairly well. Pick a source at random and forget about it—pretend that you never found it. That may not be easy. You will need to ask yourself some questions—

With all that you no longer know and all the things that you can no longer know as well or be as certain about—

In an alternate universe where you really did not know these things, is it likely that you would manage to learn them?

It can be an interesting exercise to deconstruct your research this way. Some of the questions are not easy to answer unless you have really kept track of the hows and the whys and all the logical steps as you progressed. It also says something about the importance of being thorough. If you think about a life that you don’t know much about, it can help you imagine the difference that the sources you haven’t tracked down could make and what they might contain and where they might lead you. It can also give some insight on how wrong one can be when the sources are few and far between.

Last week I posted about a trip to Fort Snelling. When I do this exercise and eliminate one specific record, I’d only be left with vague clues that I should have made that particular pilgrimage.

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Topics: Experimental Genealogy, Genealogy | 1 Comment »

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One Response to “Doing Some Unresearch”

  1. Nancy Says:
    June 27th, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    The title of this post brought me to your blog. What an interesting and very worthwhile exercise. It also reminds me how important it is to be accurate and consistent with my research logs. Thanks.