One of the most interesting ways to learn successful genealogical research methods and to discover information about different record types is by studying a case study. If you are like thousands of researchers, you may just be thinking, “Why should I bother? That’s someone else’s family.” Well, you’re passing up a golden opportunity. I used to skim over (or past) case studies in genealogy quarterlies and magazines, thinking that they were overly detailed personal research stories. They were, but not in the way that I thought. Every case study tells a story not unlike that of our own family. After all, didn’t some our ancestors live in the same time period? Weren’t identical or similar records created for them? And the author of the case study experienced the frustration and joy of an interesting research process.
I devour case studies now because they teach me resources and methodologies that I may never have encountered in my research. As a result of reading them, I gain new perspectives and means of approaching my research problems. Let’s look at the construction of a case study and where you can find good examples of them.
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