There has been some talk lately in the genealogy blogosphere about how all the definitions and methodologies and good research practices can bog down a researcher – and I totally agree. If you aren’t careful, you can quickly become obsessed with all the definitions and proof arguments and lose all the fun of discovering the stories of your ancestors.
Let me be clear here: I’m not saying you shouldn’t always strive to make your research the best it can be, because you should always be doing that. You should always be learning and growing and experimenting when it comes to your research. But you shouldn’t obsess over all of that so much that you forget the rush you felt on your all night research binges.
Remember the all night genealogy research binge rush? You got your favorite beverage by your side and you start opening browser window after browser window, going from Ancestry.com to FamilySearch to Fold3 and Google Books and downloading documents left and right. Your eyelids start getting heavy around 2 a.m. but you keep going, insistent on figuring out who great-great grandpa’s fourth wife’s maiden name was. And you know you are so close, right on the edge of finding it. And then you get that magical moment where you find it and you cheer, lifting your arms in the air with pride cause you did it. And then you look over at the clock and realize it is 5 a.m. and you gotta get up for work in two hours. So you go to bed, wake up feeling like something the cat dragged in, and down coffee the rest of the day until you are free to do it all over again.
Now I’m not saying all of your research should be late night binges where you download things willy-nilly and half way enter the source citation into your database program. But you should enjoy that binge every once in a while. You should enjoy that rush that comes with discovering your ancestors through the records they left behind. But at the same time, you should also regularly take a step back to re-evaluate the research you’ve done – is there something you’ve overlooked, a different way of seeing things, a new record type to discover, or a new research trick you can try?
While I spent much of 2013 trying to learn as much as I could about proper research methods, in 2014 I will learn to find a balance between the fun late night binges and the proper research methods and I challenge you to do the same. There is no reason why we can’t have fun while so producing sound research.