Tuesday Tip: Research, then go back and research again

One of the things I’ve learned over my years of research is that every now and then you should revisit the same resources.  This seems especially true with all the material being digitized and put online.

I make note of the databases that I work with even if I don’t find anything useful.  One of th reason is that sometimes through further researching, I learn new things that change what I know about an individual.  This might change my whole approach to finding them in a database.  I may learn that they went by a different first name or my time frame was off.   This could change the search terms I use or the time period I am looking in.

Another reason I go back and research in the same indexes and databases multiple times is that often they are not complete, especially those that are online.  Records are added incrementally or portions are indexed.  They are works in progress.  There is a mortuary database for San Francisco at familysearch.org that I keep an eye on.  There are thousands of documents that aren’t indexed yet.  I keep hoping that the index will be updated and then I’ll have access to more entries.

Recently, one of my return trips turned up new information about the Segalas family.  Do you use Google books?  I’ve found some interesting items there.  Periodically, I go back to try the same surnames, business names, and addresses I’ve search a hundred times before.  They add new material all the time.  You never know when the book you need will become available.

I relearned this lesson this week.  I decided to search for Charles Segalas and his business on 461 Bryant in San Francisco.  I learned recently that the building was built around 1912 and still exists today.

I found mention of the building in a book on earthquake building safety.  It was given as an example of improved architecture after the 1906 earthquake.  There was a photograph of the building, a notation that the designs were drawn up in 1911, and further information that the architectural designs and paperwork still exist today.  It even gave the names of the owners (Segalas & Plante).

If I didn’t go back to Google Books from time to time I would have never found this tidbit.  Now, I have another trail to follow.  I need to figure out where in San Francisco I might find the property and architectural records.  It may or may not tell me anything new, but it would be fun to see.  Who knows?  Maybe mixed in the records might be a photograph of Charles Segalas next to his building.

You may think that once you’ve researched a database that that is it.  You didn’t find what you wanted, so you can cross that one off your list.  I encourage you to keep track of these databases and indexes.  Wait a few months, then try again.  You may be surprised at how your luck changes.

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