Some Research Ideas

I spend a great amount of time doing research for my writing. I would like to suggest a methodology that might make your research more effective.

  1. Start with a simple Google internet search on the topic. Record significant research.
  2. Visit the Wikipedia link – Wikipedia is the subject of much criticism, but it’s a great place to begin. The listing, if there is one, provides the basics on the subject. Record significant research. I like to use Microsoft Notes.
  3. Check the references and citations at the bottom of the Wikipedia web page. Record research.
  4. Search Google category books to find references. Record research. Make note of all significant books.
  5. If you are searching for a person, go to Ancestry or FamilySearch. Record dates, family members, and images. Record research.
  6. Search old newspapers ( for articles. Make sure you extend the date of your research. Add modifiers to narrow the search field – start with time period, then state(s), and put topic in quotations.

You can do all of these things in your pajamas or clothes you spouse wants to throw out and at a time convenient to you.

  1. Visit library and see if they have any of the books you found in step 4. Order books using inter-library loan. Check out library editions that you can only access from home. Take pictures or pdfs of information (be sure to document the details of the source.)
  2. Check local college libraries.
  3. Check local museums.

You have not spent too much money at this stage.

  1. Contact significant museums and libraries by phone and ask them what they might have on topic. Record research.
  2. Call historic organizations to determine if they have any resources. Record research.
  3. Contact descendants from genealogical research and ask to have access to their information.

Well this is a start from immediate thoughts. Please comment on my suggestions. Also, please add any books or websites that you have found useful.

About Allen Mesch

Allen is an author, educator, and historian. He has written six books: The Analyst; Teacher of Civil War Generals; Your Affectionate Father, Charles F. Smith; Charles A. Marvin - "One Year. Six Months, and Eleven Days", Preparing for Disunion, and Ebenezer Allen - Statesman, Entrepreneur, and Spy. He taught classes on the American Civil War at Collin College. He has visited more than 130 Civil War sites and given presentations at Civil War Roundtables.
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