ICYMI: Research strategies for 2021

[Author’s note: This blog post originally appeared in Vita Brevis on 20 January 2021.]

A brand new yr gives a brand new likelihood to have a look at outdated issues with a contemporary eye – and to think about contemporary strategies for breaking by way of well-established brick partitions. Here’s a likelihood to place the phrase out: What are your favourite approaches to starting new analysis or to resolving long-standing issues?

Because the editor at Vita Brevis, it’s my job to put in writing up my very own analysis successes (and failures), and to edit the same – however invariably totally different – accounts of travails and victories from the weblog’s 100+ contributors. Through the years I’ve advisable a wide range of hints and how-tos, beginning with tips on how greatest to make the most of Google searches.

Utilizing a maternal great-grandfather for instance, I wrote:

“Above all, attempt not to assume like a genealogist. In my great-grandfather’s case, he usually glided by his initials and surname professionally, reserving his full names for his grandest [architectural] commissions, those that confirmed off his artistry. Google will solely yield what’s there, and, I’ve discovered, yield it considerably grudgingly – therefore the repeated makes an attempt to seek out the identical recalcitrant details. For nineteenth- and early twentieth-century publications, Google offers what the compilers wrote, which is, usually, not what we as genealogists could naively count on.

Google will solely yield what’s there, and, I’ve discovered, yield it considerably grudgingly…

“So, by all means start by looking full names, however be fast to maneuver on to partial identify searches and Soundex-style searches. Use each scrap of data you possibly can consider, and use it aggressively, looking all of the identify variants for individuals and for locations and issues. Repeat these searches till you could have exhausted each potential mixture.”

[In December 2020], I wrote about triangulating a known relationship to fill in an unknown one:

“A latest overview of the Livingston articles in The Scots Peerage supplied me the prospect to zero in a bit on one free finish: Was Marion Forrester, spouse of William Livingston, youthful of Kilsyth, a daughter of Sir Duncan Forrester? In that case, which of Sir Duncan’s wives was her mom? — a conundrum, as no less than a few of Sir Duncan’s youngsters appeared far too outdated to incorporate Marion of their quantity.

And who’s Thomas Forrester’s mom, in whose identify he’s performing?

“A footnote within the article on the Livingstons of Kilsyth offered the clue. On 21 July 1545, ‘Thomas Forrester of Arngibbon, for his mom and in her identify, delivers to William Livingston of Kilsyth, her oye [grandson], a constitution made to the deceased William Livingston, his father, and Marion Forrester, his mom, by William Livingston [elder] of Kilsyth, of the lands of Over Garwalls…’ on 7 September 1525. To clarify: In July 1545, William Livingston – Thomas Forrester’s nephew – is the inheritor to Over Garwalls, in possession of the lands related to the Livingstons of Kilsyth. His father (and, it’s implied, grandfather) is useless; his mom (Marion Forrester) is evidently alive, as is his grandmother… And who’s Thomas Forrester’s mom, in whose identify he’s performing? A Google seek for “Forrester of Arngibbon,” which was a property related to the Forresters of Carden, yields one other occasion of Thomas showing along with his mom … and her identify.”

Within the years between 2014 and 2021, I’ve printed 306 different weblog posts related to my identify. (A number of are omnibus items overlaying the yr in overview; others are ICYMI – “In case you missed it” – posts. Nonetheless, that’s so much…) When you have made it to date on this publish, or on the weblog, please depart a remark providing your favourite analysis methods.

It would begin a development at Vita Brevis!