Sometimes we are so focused on proving a relationship or establishing the date and place of event that we only look at documents or records that we think give us the best chance of specifically stating that relationship or date and location.

Focus can be good, but sometimes it can backfire as well.

Sometimes records that we think might not help can actually contain the information we need–either directly or indirectly. And even if the record “we don’t need” doesn’t immediately help us solve the actual problem, it may give us a clue to other records that might.

Any record can contain an unexpected clue. Sometimes searching what “won’t help me with my problem” can help us more than records that should.

Some genealogists call that an exhaustive search. I call it “good genealogists look for everything they can get their hands on (either literally or digitally).”



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