Research should never be taken for granted.
Even first hand accounts or old family histories can take you far down the wrong road.
I have been doing a great deal of family research of late. I have been reading my aunt’s book “Yet She Follows” about my great greats and their lives. It is quite fun–though I do think she could have used an editor(can’t believe I said that!) I follow the book because I know the characters–they are my ancestors, but she jumps around a bit.
My aunt–Definitely a FIERCE woman- went to college and graduated in 1920. She ran a newspaper entirely produced by women: women editors, writers, printers etc. She wrote a family history and for years I took it as gospel. We all did.
My great grandmother’s name, according to Aunt Edna, was Angeline Le Doux. It took about 4 years of serious time on Ancestry and emailing LeDoux’s to realize her last name was never LeDoux. It was Soper. It was actually Evangeline Soper. She also had a sister named Emeline so ancestry.com and I had quite a time getting it all straight.
My aunt’s reason for believing that had to do with her brothers teasing their cousins and chanting, “Pee you, Le Doux,” at him. She thought the last name was Le Doux.
Once I got to the bottom of it I found more about Angeline and her family.
In my defense, My aunt was fairly authoritarian and by the time I was born only she and my dad remained. She was the oldest and he her younger brother by 14 years. Hence the respect.
The lesson is to question everything.
Ask questions of perfect strangers–we can all connect on the internet now– and to search through all types of “authorities.”
I also find image searches to be helpful.
You might have seen a recent tweet about researching early 1900’s pantries. I needed an image in my head to describe one and so off I went. Thank you google for helping me out.
Are journalism students put through their paces in the library anymore? Do they know about reverse and city directories or the “Readers Guide to Periodical Literature?” All have helped me in the past. Remember to ask the librarian. They still exist and they are enormously helpful.
What are you researching these days? Do you need some advice on where to find something?
Check this out: