The French word revoir means ’to see again’; it is the origin of the English word review. I believe that for those of us who study our family history or are genealogists, the understanding of the root of this English word is critical.
I'm so fortunate to have had a number of ’aha! ’ moments, in locating original family documents. I've also come across plenty of biographies in books, articles in newspapers, etc. And every time that happens, it comes with this burst of elation, frenzied reading, excited data entry and a sense of being able to move my research just a little bit further along. I then catalog the item and move on.
Revoir. It's such a lovely sounding word. Its English derivation often, I believe, gets short shrift because of the subtle difference in its meaning. I believed that the word review meant to go over something a second time. It's the same thing as seeing it again, right? Or is it?
We can look, but not see. Anyone who's done more than cursory genealogical research knows this. So the process of reviewing our documentation is to re-see it, not just to look at it again, oui? I challenge you to take a document that you know may hold information that you have yet to glean, or even one you think you've gathered all you can from, and revoir it. Rather than reading the words, see it as a picture. Does something grab your eye? A surname, a date, a punctuation mark? (As an aside, I've used this technique on documents in languages I'm not familiar with; it's a tool to glean essential names, dates and keywords without translating the entire document.)
I learned another great technique from a writer/editor friend (thank you Laura Matthews!): read the document backwards. Start at the end and read each sentence from the last to the first. Revoir. Found nothing new? At least you know you've tried every angle. Then, using your tracking system (you have one of those, right?) indicate that the document has been reviewed.
Are there techniques you've used to review genealogical documents? Does knowing the derivation of the word help to re-frame how you'll review things?
I hope that this has helped a bit, and for now, au revoir. ;-)