“Test, before You Trust!”

When I worked as a school library media specialist, I repeated this phrase often. Facts should always be verified. When you find a fact repeated the same way at another trustworthy source then it’s a “Go!”- use that fact with confidence.

However, errors often occur and they are frustrating and confusing. Recently I was looking at a historical photo. An anonymous writer had written a caption with some identifying information. The trouble is it didn’t line up with photos I had turned up in the state archives and local historical society. Finally after consulting with another respected researcher we solved the puzzle. He remembered a fact from a previously recorded oral history and together we judged the photo caption to be false. When I wrote my caption correction, I dated it and wrote my name. The lesson I learned is fact check all claims.

You can certainly get lost doing research. I was listening to a podcast last week, and the highly respected author Melanie Dobson said, “I write to support my research habit.” I can identify with this statement. Whether it’s checking facts or conducting an investigation to answer a question, I often find myself doing a deep dive into research. As deadlines near, more than once I’ve told my editorial board, “I’m just going to call it and start writing.” As the word count goes up, it easier to see what is needed and what can be discarded. With a project I’m working on, I still have two more outstanding unverified claims. One involves Henry David Thoreau, and the second is centered on the 1824 visit of the Marquis de Lafayette. Right now, the answers are just outside my grasp, but I’m hoping to prove them both of the claims true.