01 February 2012

The Wall Method

For over a decade, I have been researching my paternal line, traveling in time through Washington, Nebraska, Michigan and New York. I have been increasingly frustrated with the parents of Oscar F Brown (see previous posts'). I decided to take on the challenge in a new way a couple of months ago, and the results have been increasingly obvious. I still do not have all the answers, but I have more information than I did just three months ago, and I feel as if I'm starting to climb that brick wall.

Here was my plan of attack: Be visual.

It doesn't sound like much, but it made all the difference in the world. Using the back of an old desk calendar that had large pages, I outlined each theory on Oscar's parents and taped them to the wall above my work space. That way, whenever I needed a date, name, reference point, or otherwise, it was right there in front of me. Obviously, not every detail is listed on the pages, but they provide enough bullet points to get me from point A to point B for the day.

There is a lot of discussion in the genealogy community about how to stay organized, to have a written research plan, to review material, etc., etc., etc. All of this is great, and it is all useful, but it is not necessarily going to work every time.

Sometimes to overcome that brick wall in your research, you have to find a different way around it, through it, under it, over it, or just plain turn around and get a running start. The wall method seems to be working so far. I'll keep you posted.