Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review - "QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle)"

The Genealogical Publishing Company in Baltimore has published another in its series of "QuickSheet" laminated research guides - this time for The Historical Biographer's Guide to Cluster Research (the FAN Principle) by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

This QuickSheet booklet has four laminated pages on one 11" x 17" paper (folded). It is designed to give the user the basic guidelines for genealogy research in the allotted space, and provide an overview of the facts a researcher needs to know in order to begin and proceed successfully with research in the subject.

In this QuickSheet, Elizabeth Mills introduces us to the concept of “Cluster Research” based on the FAN principle, the idea being that to prove identity, origin, and parentage individuals must be studied in the context of their FAN club--Family, Associates, and Neighbors. 

The QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Research Process folder has these major subjects:

*  The FAN Principle defined

*  The Starting Point - information about the target person and his/her FAN club
*  Major Problems and Work-Arounds - including Gaps in the evidentiary trail, Merged identities, Direct evidence vs. clues, Geo-historical frameworks, Legal contexts and Female identifications.
*  applying the Principle to Common Resources - including a list of record types that should be considered
*  The Problem-Solving Spiral - from objective to analysis to planning research to doing research to correlating information to assembling a proof argument.
*  Targeted Research Using the FAN Principle - starting with the target person, gradually expand the research to known relatives and in-laws, others of the same surname, associates and neighbors of the target person, and associates of the associates.

This booklet is designed primarily for the historical biographer who is trying to reconstruct a person's life by using a structured research process.  It provides a summary of the process of finding the identity, origin, and parentage of elusive ancestors using the FAN Principle (also known as "Cluster genealogy").  The information included in this QuickSheet embraces the well-known Genealogical Proof Standard, and extends the user's knowledge by offering ideas for attacking major research problems, using common resources, defining the research spiral and the idea of targeted research.  This FAN Principle is the usual method that professional genealogists use to resolve thorny research problems.

For someone like me that teaches and talks about genealogy a bit, the QuickSheet format is invaluable because I can pull it out and provide some guidance to my student or colleague interested in the subject.

The beauty of these "QuickSheet" folders is that they are very light and portable in a briefcase or laptop case. They are fixtures in my research case.

This four-page laminated booklet costs $8.95, plus postage and handling (4th Class Mail $5.50; FedEx Ground Service in the USA, $7.50). You can order it through the Genealogical  Store, or use the link for the 
QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to the Cluster Research (the FAN Principle) and click on the "Add to Cart" link. 

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

Disclosure: contacted me recently and asked me to provide a review of this booklet. They mailed me a review copy for my personal use as remuneration for this review.


Celia Lewis said...

I think I could spend a small fortune on these helpful QuickSheets, Randy! This one sounds particularly good, and I also could use it with my beginners' classes in genealogy. Thanks for doing such thorough analysis and review of these helpful tools!

Anonymous said...

Love to have this but the shipping costs are outrageous.