Genealogical research is a wonderful way for those of us who love jigsaw puzzles to work on a large-scale picture that has practical use. However, just like in the TV show, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” we often need help from other sources. This is where our own private networks come into play.
Networking our way through research means figuring out the right questions and the right people to ask. Most of the time we don’t have a clue as to either. So, where do we begin?
The best thing I have found to do, once the obvious questions have been asked and we have a name, birth date, birth place and other vital statistics (or as much of them as the person we’re speaking to remembers) is to make sure that we’ve taken really careful notes. Using those notes, getting to archives to verify information, and talking to other people to verify stories is the next likely path to take. But what then?
Then we network. Using resources like listserves, sites that allow inquiries about names and places, talking to even more people, we spread our reach and carefully listen and look for the tiniest clue, the smallest insight we might come across. We repeat the stories we’ve been told to other people, and sooner or later, Eureka! We hit gold. Okay, so the gold vein we hit may be so tiny it’s almost unnoticeable, but nevertheless, each small gain leads to another, and like drops of water they accumulate.