Wednesday, September 26, 2012

18 Days with Sherlock - Day 5 – Gather ALL Clues

Sherlock gathered ALL of the clues from the scene of the crime even if he didn’t know if they were relevant or not. Genealogists make the mistake of gathering only what they think is important and then they miss something vital along the way. Take the time to look at the neighbors of your person of interest in the census records. Do background research on the area of interest to see what was going on during that time period. Extract ALL the names mentioned in official documents. Make note of the deeds before and after the ones you are interested in. Look at everyone with the same name in the same area and develop a profile on each one of them. Over time you will be able to figure out which facts go with which person and then you will be able to exclude those that don't belong to your person of interest.
“As I watched him I was irresistibly reminded of a pure-blooded, well-trained foxhound, as it dashes backward and forward through the covert, whining in its eagerness, until it comes across the lost scent.” [Watson observing Holmes, "A Study in Scarlet"]
“Well, Mr. Holmes, what are we to do with that fact?”
“To remember it – to docket it. We may come on something later which will bear upon it.”[Inspector Lestrade to Holmes and Holmes' response, "The Six Napoleons"]
"I had at the outset no particular reason to connect these journeys with the disappearance of Godfrey Staunton, and was only inclined to investigate them on the general grounds that everything which concerns Dr. Armstrong is at present of interest to us…” [Holmes to Watson, "The Missing Three-Quarter"]
"Much of what I tell you is no doubt quite irrelevant, but still I feel that it is best that I should let you have all the facts and leave you to select for yourself those which will be of most service to you in helping you to your conclusions.” [Watson to Holmes in a letter, "The Hound of the Baskervilles"]

Copyright © 2012 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. As I am very new at researching my family, I am enjoying your days with Sherlock Holmes very much. Already I have gone back to the few documents and leads I found and unearthed new clues that allowed me to formulate new theories to go forward. It is also amazing how putting pencil to paper can help in the absence of a Dr Watson as a resounding board.
    Thank you,
    annick5424 at gmail dot com

  2. Thank you so much for your kind comments! I wish you the best of luck researching your family. If you have any questions at all please don't hesitate to ask :)

  3. Great tip Michele. It seems like early on we really resist this one because it takes so much time, but it really pays off. I really enjoy your blog.

  4. Yes it does take a lot of time but it will save you time in the end. Nothing is more frustrating than going back over records you have already looked at because you forgot something. I copy down as much info as I can the first time around :)