Looking in the Right Place: Some Concepts

It doesn’t make sense. They should be there. They’re supposed to be there. What’s the problem? Why can’t I find them?

More often than not, the answer to that line of questioning is pretty simple: You’re not looking in the right place.

Fine. Great. I’m looking in the wrong place. How, exactly, do you propose I fix that? How do I find the right place?

Not to worry. You’ve got this. To start, take a look at the 1982 NGSQ article by the late Elizabeth Pearson White, CG, FASG, (and later FNGS): “Finding Elusive New Englanders.”[1] White’s focus is on New England, but her concepts are broadly applicable and can help researchers reconsider their own geographical areas of interest. “In this paper,” she says, “I will not spend time discussing the standard sources for the records you need. Instead, I am going to suggest different ways in which you can look at the records you find and how to interpret them.”[2]

White acknowledges that the search for ancestors in New England is generally easier than in any other region of the country. But she also acknowledges that the very processes that make that research easier can inadvertently introduce problems.

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