Tuesday, November 22, 2011
How Many Times Do You Read a Document?
I find myself in this scenario a lot - I go to a Registry of Deeds or Town Hall to do research. I have a research plan (i.e. a long to-do list) and I want to accomplish everything on my list. Often times the next step I take depends on reading the document in hand, making a quick analysis and then dashing off to find the next document. At the end of the day I pull together all my photocopies, photographs and/or scans along with notes and head off home.
Once I'm back in my office or the next day I start to really mentally process and take in the research I did on-site. Lingering questions and "what ifs" or "did it really say that" start creeping into my head. Before I know it I am pulling out the documents, reading them again, clarifying and hopefully answering the questions in my head.
How exactly was the name written on that will? Which children were named in the guardianship papers? Where is Otter Creek anyway (I bet it's critical to this mystery!)? Did I check the transfer date versus the recording date on the deed?
I find that I typically check relevant documents two or three times before I am completely satisfied that I understand what information they have to offer me. And some documents I revisit months or years later (you know, for those particularly sticky mysteries).
How many times do you read the documents that you collect as you do your research? Do you sit and thoroughly absorb them the first time around? Or do you need to revisit them as I do? I'll be very curious to hear your responses and learn your research habits!
Posted by Marian Pierre-Louis at 1:37 PM