One of the reasons I finished my degree in History and fell in love with genealogy is because it is a puzzle. Research is a little like being a detective as you track down the clues. I enjoy the hunt and trying to piece the puzzle together. Sometimes it keeps me up at night when I cannot shut off my brain.
One thing that my client research had not done, until last week, was to include the historical information surrounding a time, place, or event. It had been mostly looking for the family information, proving relationships, and finding documentation. My latest search allowed me to flex my historical research skills and locate documents and articles to help place a man in historical context to a specific event.
Last week I spent many hours scrolling through 1955 Gary Post-Tribune newspapers at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Daley Library looking for articles about a specific event in a town’s history. My goal was to connect a specific man to this event. My search yielded a couple of articles about the event but had no reference to the man I sought. Then I re-read his obituary and felt another paper trail needed to be followed.
I had planned to visit the Calumet Regional Archives to view a set of documents just in case they contained something for this man. After I re-read his obituary I absolutely knew I could not overlook this source. Turns out I was right! This source at the Calumet Regional Archives contained several pieces of documentation that helped my client prove a theory about this man and this event.
This is a brief account of the search for this information. The results came after three weeks of discussions with my client, research on both our parts, more discussion, feelings of being on the wrong track many times, and then a gut feeling that this one source would provide most of the answers.
As you piece together a puzzle while doing your research, remember to trust your gut and follow every paper trail. You may be pleasantly surprised (or downright super excited) that your gut was right and you were able to make someone’s day with what you found.