Monday, December 9, 2013

Know when you're shelving that project

Ideally of course we would all have each of our many projects and potential projects fully annotated and up to date before we turned to another. But often I find that I start on something but have to drop it for various reasons, usually because there's something more urgent on my agenda. More than a decade ago, my brother and I were researching one of our Swedish great-great-great grandfathers, interestingly named Nils Gall. News of an impending grandchild caused us to drop the investigation in haste, and only a year or so later did we realize that certain researches seemed familiar, and we rediscovered where we had left off.

Sometimes I put a project away with a lick and a promise, and the promise is greatly deferred. The trick is to have a good sense of limits, and of priorities, so that we can realize

(a) that we are in fact about to put off an interesting rabbit hole in favor of already promised work or play, and

(b) that before we do so we need to sketch out where we were when we had to set it aside.

This applies whether we've just poked into a couple of manuscript collections and realized that this investigation has to be for another day, or whether we have a half-finished manuscript of our own full of incomplete citations and rows of question marks at certain key junctures. Know Thyself.

Harold Henderson, "Know when you're shelving that project," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 9 December  2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]


Michael Koplow said...

I'll probably be embarrassed by my cluelessness when you answer this, but why is Nils Gall an interesting name? Thanks.

Harold Henderson said...

Michael -- Well, it just sounded interesting, but genealogically it's interesting because it's probably an army name, not a proper surname as we know them, and certainly not a patronymic like Nilsson. -- Harold