You’ve spent hundreds of hours searching for clues as to whom might be the parents of your ancestor. And you’re at the point of just laying it aside and moving on. I do understand. I’ve been there myself.
First, I’d like to say that laying it aside might not be a bad idea. If you’ve done all there is to do, it might be best to move on to researching a different ancestor for now. Lay the research aside and let some time go by. New resources and indexes are published and posted every day. Something could very well be available in a year or two that isn’t available today.
Then again, do you have research that you laid aside years ago? If so, this is the time to take it out and take a second look, all the while keeping in mind that many new resources are available today that we didn’t have just a year or two ago. Another thing that happens when you take a second look is the possibility that you may see things that you didn’t see when you were working on the project before.
Emily Croom, in her excellent book, The Sleuth Book for Genealogists, recommends making a progress report. She lays out the following ten items to include in the analysis:
“1. Make a list of what you knew about the person or problem before research began.
2. Evaluation of sources, including those that yielded good information and those that did not.
3. Any pertinent sources you have not yet tried and how they may help you.
4. Ideas for further research to make a stronger case or a more complete case.
5. Analysis of evidence.
6. Your theories on what my be true, probable, or possible. Include facts that support your theories and any that contradict them. You may find yourself listing pros and cons on a particular decision: why these may be his parents and why they may not. Other compilers or researchers may have different theories about your ancestors. Evaluate theirs against what you have found. Evaluate yours critically and objectively.
7. Any additional material from your research that needs to be used to support an argument.
8. Any additional questions that come to mind during this fine-tuning of your research.
9. Techniques you used when you could not find direct statements of information.
10. Conclusions you reached after studying the evidence.”
So take a second look. You may find grandpa…