Talking About What Does Not Work

Books and journals are full of “finished” research articles with laid-out evidence and analysis that clearly makes the author’s case.

It the author is “fortunate,” someone has edited out the process, the things that don’t work, and the struggle along the way to that final research goal. After all, it is the finished product that matters most. It is about the end game.


But there are times where it’s the game, the process, that matters and is most instructive.

The finished product without some of the “whys” behind the research is not always instructive.

A colleague was giving me research advice about a family I was working on in Boston. He asked me questions in an attempt to help me. Pretty good thing to do.

He then gave me advice.

Then I asked him “why?”

Unless he explained his reasoning, I asked him “why?” Just like a small child would do. I wasn’t asking him why to irritate him, I was asking “why?” in order to learn.  Just giving me answers really only helped me on that one specific problem. Giving me his rationalization for his suggestions helped me to understand a little better.

And maybe I won’t have to ask him the same type of question again.

That’s why this blog and Casefile Clues tries to include as much of the process and the “why” as possible.

Genealogists are like students. Sometimes just seeing the answer without any of the work is not all that helpful.



2 thoughts on “Talking About What Does Not Work

  1. I love reading your “Tip of the Day” because they do give insights as to things to look for and the why. Thanks so much for sharing your search ideas!

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