People often say to themselves, “If I only knew then what I know now.” They look wistfully at past experiences thinking that if they had another chance they might do things differently. In most cases, people can’t redo yesterday. But in genealogical research, we sometimes can—and should—do just that. Second looks are often needed before we can move ahead.
Professional researchers know that solutions to clients’ brick-wall problems often hide in plain sight—right in the materials the clients provide. Clients may miss clues and subtleties. Untrained, inexperienced researchers inaccurately interpret records. When reviewed by fresh eyes with more experience, the solution emerges.
Genealogists can apply this concept to their own work. Going back to review research problems after accumulating experience and knowledge can lead to a breakthrough. When research stalls and the question is unresolved, it helps to take a step back to re-examine and analyze all the details of the case. It’s time for a second look.
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