With online document repositories, record indexing, and the oh-so-simple-looking Search box, we grow accustomed to being taken magically to just the record we are looking for. Another birth date, another ancestor for the family tree. It is oh so simple.
Go ahead, you know you’re feeling lucky.
But in this simplicity, we run the risk of developing tunnel vision and missing related records, missing much needed historical context, and well, missing the journey itself.
When the Search takes you to the record you asked for, take the time to look up and look down in the document to get a lay of the land. In a census, read the prior 5 pages, and the following 5 pages. You may be pleasantly surprised with what you find. We’ve lost count of how many times we have been. What leads us to …
Rule 1: Look Up, Look Down