Before you search for someone in a database, index, or set of original records, think about what that record will probably say about them, including:

  • name(s)
  • nicknames or diminutives
  • age or year of birth
  • place of birth (may not be very precise) and what “wrong locations” they may have given
  • location of the event
  • approximate date of the event
  • approximate location of the event
  • others who may be mentioned in the record (and similar details about them)

It may see like “if you know all that,” you wouldn’t need the record you are looking for. I understand that, but the process is more than just that. Part of this “what would the record look like” analysis is to help you formulate a search strategy for those who are difficult to find and to help you compare the located record with what you already know–keeping in mind that what you already know could be wrong.

Or it could be right.



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