Genealogical case studies fascinate me. They provide examples of outstanding research methods and problem-solving techniques. They also illustrate how the standard and possibly unusual source materials can be used to document a genealogical problem.
Responsible genealogical research involves a great deal of documentation. We transcribe, photocopy, photograph, scan, print, and otherwise copy the documentary evidence we discover. We examine the data and subject it to in-depth analysis. We attempt to reconcile conflicting information with what we hope are independent pieces of evidence. We develop logical deductions and document the proofs that justify the conclusions. We ultimately will produce a written recap of our research conclusions, complete with a source citation for each piece of evidence.
On the other hand, I know that many genealogical researchers feel compelled to write a family history. The urge to use the fruits of their labors to document the family can be irresistible. The result may take one of several forms. It may be a concise collection of generational charts with names, dates, locations, and citations. It also may be a biographical sketch or descriptive portraiture. On the other hand, it may take on a life of its own and incorporate much more. A historical novel, based on proven facts and incorporating contextual information, dialog, and clearly drawn character traits and personalities, presents a fleshed-out story of great depth and interest. Some would argue that such a novel is a fictionalized and diluted telling of the story. However, there have been some excellent novels published in the last half century that that clearly challenge that assertion, and I would like to recommend some of my favorites.
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