Every time I think nothing more can come from the thousands of old images and documents in my files, a new flood of needed information will spill out of my research drawers.
Early in my research career, I assigned these data deluges to the carelessness of my research skills, but now I’m not so sure.
It seems that our wonderful but very human minds can simply be blind to anything we see other than the focus of our current quest.
How many times have you “accidentally” discovered a treasure trove of information from documents in your possession that you’ve long since transcribed, scanned and massaged? It happens to me all of the time and no matter how carefully I try to be when gleaning every possible scrap of information from a record, I always leave puddles of really good stuff behind.
Who would have guessed that I had an image of a page in a family bible that listed the marriage date of my 5th great grandparents? The entries at the top of the page listed the births and deaths of their children. As the handwriting continued after that, it became more cramped, harder to read and less interesting.
How many times have I reviewed that document? How many times have I attached its digital image to records both in my local database and online and still never spotted the most wanted info at the bottom?
I used to take the “bet” from students in my genealogy classes that they hadn’t gleaned all of the information from their files. The plates of cookies I won were always appreciated by the rest of the class. It was a always a sucker bet. A sure thing. A shoe in. I just liked cookies and knew that the folks in the class did too.
The bets always made the point that my words had tried to convey. We simply don’t fully absorb all of the information from old records and images in any review of them. Information that may not be relevant at the time may change as we learn more about the lives and times of our ancestors.
If you haven’t created a regular “review it again” schedule for your document and image files, set one up and actually re-review documents in your files when the “To-Do” alarm pops up.
I’d probably take your bets still today, but who wants a plate full of software cookies? We get enough of them on the Internet as it is. In an earlier post I wrote about this research phenomenon. It never seems to expire or diminish. There really is Gold in your Drawers.
JessLibrarian wrote about the discovery of gold in her documents drawer recently. Enjoy that story here.