Exhaustive Searches that are Practical

We give recommendations for future research every time a document is analyzed in Casefile Clues. Those suggestions are based only on what the document discussed in the issue contains. This helps us to maintain our focus on the one document and the understanding of it.

I try and not bring in what I may know about the family from other records. Sometimes that is difficult, but I feel it’s important to helping people see how to analyze and interpret records.  It’s sort of “cheating” if suggestions are based on things I know that are in no way stated in the record.

We also try and be as practical as possible in our suggestions. It would be easy to say “look for everything,” particularly in research situations in the United States before 1850. That’s not always possible and some records suggest looking for certain other records first–either because those records are mentioned specifically in the record being analyzed or they are implied based upon statements made in the record. It’s just a question of choosing where to “followup.” Cost and access are other issues that are considered as well.

We try and suggest the most reasonable searches in our “going forward” section and leave it at that instead of giving readers an extremely long list of every possible record to look at. That’s because usually those records will suggest other materials and give the researcher additional direction.

Our search suggestions on following up to individual records are not usually exhaustive. Not because exhaustive searches are not important, but because our philosophy in record analysis is to focus on one record.


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