As I’ve been discovering more information on my uncle’s 1925 car accident and resulting lawsuit, I’ve been reminded of the importance of a few things.
- Reviewing what you did early in your research. When I began my research, I looked at virtually every book I could get my hands on in the courthouse. It was exhaustive, but to a point and not quite the way research needs to be exhaustive. Doing that allowed me to discover quite a few things, but I tended to focus on those things that attracted my immediate attention. Sometimes I didn’t always look up everything on aunts/uncles and extended family members. Directly related to the lawsuit I did not find, I am pretty certain that I didn’t look at court cases if they didn’t appear to be interesting at the time. For me in the early days of my research, court cases involve estate squabbles or divorces were typically what I focused on while searching because those cases are the most likely to provide the most genealogical information. That caused me to overlook things.
- Keep a research log. While I do this now, I did not do it early in my research–and that’s why reviewing or even redoing research done early in your genealogical experience is a good idea.
- If you don’t ask the right questions, you won’t get the answers. Since I didn’t know about the lawsuit involving my uncle (and the car accident which precipitated it), I never thought to ask about it. Relatives sometimes don’t mention things simply because it happened years before you asked and they simply have forgotten. There are also details they don’t tell you because they don’t want you to know.
- Early newspaper reports of events can contain errors. The initial mention of my uncle’s car accident in the newspaper spelled his last name incorrectly. Sometimes the initial report on something can contain incorrect information. Try and follow up through as many issues of the newspaper as you can. Later references to the event may contain more accurate information