I’m at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy hosted by the Utah Genealogical Association this week. My course is Advanced Methodology, led and coordinated by Paul Graham, CG, CGL. I’m going to share something I learned each day about my genealogy practice.
Paul said this in the morning of Day 1 and it stuck with me all day. There are things I know, such as census records. And there are things I know I don’t know, such as federal land records.
However there is a whole category of things that I don’t know that I don’t know. It’s not visible to me because I don’t even know it exists. I can’t even quantify how much I don’t know that I don’t know. Looking at possible sources of genealogical value, Is it even possible to know of them all? I don’t think so given the diversity of records across countries and time periods.
If it’s not possible to know everything I could use in research, then what? After thinking about it all day, I’ve come to the conclusion that how I solve research problems in genealogy will rely on using the information I do have and reliable methods of analyzing it.
I simplified to the following equation to remember it:
Methods > Sources
Methods of reaching conclusions to genealogical research problems are greater than sources of information alone.