When I read The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, it purposed that you come up with a hypothesis and then try to find records that match that hypothesis. I don’t understand this method and I want to share with you some of the unique ways that I research.
My method is to find as many records as I can for an individual. I started out with Ancestry.com which might have been where this method began to develop. Ancestry with its constant leaves popping up and the very human way of clearing those leaves to make “progress”, you end up attaching a lot of records. After a while, you realize that there is never really a way to clear leaves. Your tree expands infinitely in nearly all directions. You end up getting into an infinite loop of collecting as many records as possible. It is great that the internet has enabled us to do this. I think the other method of researching was based on limited time and limited availability of records.
After a while though you need to take the search offline. I once wrote Ancestry and asked if there was a way to query my tree. I wanted things like: everyone that died in Ohio or everyone that was married in Indiana. They told me that I would have to buy their Family Tree Maker software to have that kind of searching ability. Wrong answer, I pay them enough in subscription money. So, I began searching for other software which enabled me to import and search a GEDCOM. I found several but none worked as well as GRAMPS.
Once I pulled out information on everyone that had any event in Indiana. I took the list of cities and counties and Googled for the library of each one. Some libraries offer Obituary look-up for a fee. Some of the libraries have indexes on their websites. In any case, you have to find each library and look through their site. Then, I also found out that here in Indianapolis is the Indiana State Library. Equipped with the information in the indexes, I made several visits at the Indiana State Library looking through the newspapers on microfilm. It was very convenient that their microfilm is alphabetically organized by newspaper city.
The same is true for Ohio. The Ohio History Center Library in Columbus, Ohio has tons of microfilm of Ohio Newspapers. Their newspapers are organized by number in what appears to be the order they received them. Search their catalog online before you go. The time I went pre-equipped with catalog information I brought home 39 newspaper clippings in a full day there.
Although my method of trying to get as many records as possible may be unorthodox, it is perfectly fitting with my IT background and how I got my start with Ancestry leaves. I’ve pretty much got everything I can from the microfilm at the Indiana State Library. I can’t wait for my next trip to the Ohio History Center Library.
If you have any unusual research methods, please share in the comments. I’d love to try other ways of searching both online and offline.