Kicking Around Organizational Ideas

Kicking ideas or pieces of information around can help us to see additional perspectives that might not be obvious otherwise.

But there comes a time when one has to stop kicking around the individual pieces and start to see if there is any trend that appears. Our first organization approach may not be as successful as in the illustration. We may have to try multiple strategies before a clear picture emerges. Organizing information chronologically (in a timeline), geographically (on a contemporary map), by perceived reliability of record, by record type, etc. are all ways to sort details in hopes that trends are noticed after the sorting.

There may be gaps in any organization. Your ancestor may not have left records during a decade of his life, some records may not have precise location necessary for mapping, etc.

Extracting all the names from a series of documents on an ancestor–land records, court cases, etc. allows the researcher to sort those entries by name and determine how many times certain “non-relatives” appear in those records and in what capacity those names appear. There can be clues in those trends.

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