Discoveries hiding in plain sight?



Genealogy Files

Two articles showed up in the news this week involving a document found in the National Archives regarding President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, that had previously been overlooked, and not indexed.  The first article suggested that it shouldn’t be called a “discovery”, since the article was already in an archives’ collection, and not found in someone’s attic.File:Abraham Lincoln head on shoulders needlepoint.jpg

Later in the week, the “discoverer” wrote a reply/rebuttal, suggesting that it definitely is a discovery, since the document had not been previously catalogued or indexed, and no previous references to its existence had ever been found.

Both articles were definitely worth reading, and provided some thought-provoking material.  My thoughts, at least, were definitely provoked.  As always, I considered what the information in both articles might mean to me in terms of my own genealogy research, and realized that they are very pertinent to ALL of us genealogy researchers, on a very personal level.

Whether you’ve only recently started seeking family information, or you’ve been diligently researching for years, chances are good that you have acquired a hefty number of papers or digital files — documents, stories, clues. You’ve got copies of things that can’t remember why you made them in the first place. And you have copies of things that you haven’t looked at since that research trip (how many years ago?) when you made the copy, figuring at the time either it might be important, or that you’d look at it later.

We have stacks of those, don’t we?

Let’s make Discoveries

My suggestion here is that we almost certainly have answers to questions that we didn’t even know we had, safely filed away in our folders, both electronic and paper.  Unindexed, unreported, unscrutinized facts, names, dates, events, that we didn’t recognize before, but most likely now… now that we’ve pieced together a bit more of our family puzzle… now they might make perfect sense.

It’s time to spend some time in our OWN archives, reviewing our OWN past, and making our OWN “discoveries”.  I challenge y’all to pick one of your oldest folders of un-analyzed papers and skim, or even actually read, through it.  I’d love to hear what you find!

2 Responses

  1. Judy Webster says:

    That’s good advice. I recently had another look at documents I’d filed (a decade ago) under “Just in case they are related to our HUDSONs in Crambe, North Yorkshire”. With what I’ve learned since then, I now realise that one of the “in case” people is relevant because marriage witnesses are people whom recent research has confirmed as “mine”.

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