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Separating Fact from Fiction

Separating Fact from Fiction

May 19, 2021

When I am not doing genealogy, I enjoy reading fiction and watching mystery movies. While I am usually the first to point out things that I see in movies that never happen in real life, I also realize that some of my favorite fictional detectives have some qualities that would make them great genealogists!

Nancy Drew often finds herself in a cemetery, but that is not the only reason I would consider her a great genealogist. She looks for clues in unexpected places—like an old clock, a jewel box, or even a diary. If you are just getting started with genealogy, don’t forget to look for clues in the attic or basement where you have stashed away old newspaper clippings, photos, and letters. See what other family members have hidden away!

Of course, I have to mention Aurora Teagarden because she is a professional librarian. When she needs information, she goes to the library and uses one of their databases to find what she needs. MCPL has genealogy, history, newspaper, and geography databases that can help you with your genealogy. All you need is your Library card to access these resources from home. You can also come into the Library and find more information in books and microfilm and get ideas from the staff at the Midwest Genealogy Center.

I love how fictional detectives create an evidence board where they pin all their documents and write notes all over the board until they make that critical connection that points to the guilty culprit. Genealogist can use timelines, research checklists, and research logs to organize their thoughts and look for missing pieces. Try some of MGC’s fillable forms to help you organize your thoughts and create your own “evidence board” to solve your genealogy mysteries. Recently, I pulled out one of my genealogy “cold cases” that I began working on over 30 years ago. Going back over my old forms and creating a new timeline helped me discover some evidence that has successfully led me to new names and additional resources!
I have found that the best detectives and genealogists have some skills in common—they ask questions, interview people, analyze evidence, and dig through documents. They know how to separate fact from fiction, and more importantly, they never give up!

What have you learned about genealogy from your favorite fictional sleuth?

Jolene C.
Midwest Genealogy Center

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