How does one eat an elephant (or digest an 885-page book)?

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How does one eat an elephant (or digest an 885-page book)?

ForceTrainer has raised an ever-timely issue.  Opening up an 885-page book can trigger an image of the old cliché: How does one eat an elephant?  The best way to take that proverbial "one bite at a time," where EE is concerned, would be this:

1. Read the first two chapters. Reread them. Learn them. These are the basic principles that apply to almost everything. Knowing these principles will serve you well through all your research and citation issues.

2. With each new source type you use, turn to the chapter that deals with that source type and read the first few pages. There, you'll find guidelines and context that specifically relate to that record type. Then skim the chapter looking for the discussions that follow the various citation models. There you'll learn much about the *quirks* that crop up in using these records.

3. Then look for the model that best fits your need. Each chapter starts with a gray page that is headed "QuickCheck Models" on one side and "Guidelines & Examples" on the other. You'll be sorely tempted to just skim the list of "Quickheck Models." But the back side of that page offers much more. That's where you'll find the chapter-contents list, itemizing all the "Guidelines & Examples" for that source type, along with the exact passage you should consult for your type of record or your thorny question.

4. When you check the index, don't just look for record type. Also look for keywords—and for quirks. Many of the quirks that historical researchers have to deal with are not specific to any one type of record. You might, for example, encounter a quirk in a superior court record book that is also found in church registers. If EE has discussed it in the chapter on church records (chapter 7), it will not repeat that discussion in the chapters on court records (chapters 8 and 9). By looking up the quirk in the index, you will be pointed to what you need to know about that issue, regardless of the record type you are using.

If all this doesn't solve your dilemma , then ... no problem!  Help is fairly prompt here at EE's user forum.

mhait's picture

Hmmm. You should have told us this before I wasted a week reading it from front to back. ;)


FindlenG's picture

Having read through all 800-plus pages was not a waste.  You saw the range of documents genealogists cite and the issues involved in citing them.  Such an overview is valuable in that it gives you an idea of what chapter to look in for an example when  you need it later.

Humans only learn what they use.  Treat EE like a dictionary:  look up what you need when you need it.  Over time, you will master what you use frequently. 

George Findlen