Research Tip of The week

Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results.

Thomas Edison

The inventor’s dictum about negative results can usefully be applied to us family historians.    Working on the Genealogical Advisory Team at the National Library, I am often struck by the many callers daunted by the sheer volume of possibilities in their searches. Confronted with a plethora of results the inclination is to retreat from the fray.   But when we can narrow down our search – for example – in a census search – eliminate all single people, all of a particular religion, we can be left with a more manageable quota of possibles.  I may not go as far as Edison to say negative results are just as valuable as positive results, but eliminating people from our searches is progress.

By Expert Researcher,

Carmel Gilbride.




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