I recently published an article called “Identity as a Research Tool” in The Septs, the journal of the Irish Genealogical Society International.1 In the article I used the case of two Iowa men with the same name to show how genealogists can build descriptions of the key characteristics of their research subjects and then use those descriptions to ensure that they are attributing records to the proper research subject. In the article I applied terms and methods described by Robert Charles Anderson in his book Elements of Genealogical Analysis: How to Maximize Your Research Using the Great Migration Study Project Method.2
Building on the ideas discussed in the Septs article, Shirleen Hoffman and I will teach a two-hour workshop called “Jumpstarting Your Problem-Solving” on Saturday October 1 at the Minnesota Genealogical Society‘s North Star Conference in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The workshop will have two segments. In the first hour I will review a case study identifying the parents of a woman who lived in nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. The case study will show how to apply a variety of tools, including mindmapping, diagramming, timelining, DNA analysis, collaboration, and creating various kinds of tables in order to think differently and a stubborn genealogical problem. In the second hour Shirleen will lead an exercise in which workshop participants will create identity profiles and timelines for two same-name nineteenth-Century men, one in Minnesota and one in Wisconsin, in order to determine whether they are the same person.
I have uploaded Word templates for two of the key tools Shirleen and I will use in the workshop, an identity profile and a timeline, to the FreeDownloads page of my website. Please help yourself to the templates, and come see Shirleen and me at the conference.