Anyone interesting in ghost hunting should know a little bit about doing research. It’s important to know what you’re dealing with and the history of a location can give you clues into understanding your evidence. Some people prefer to wait until after an investigation to do their research while others start weeks before. Either way is ok. It’s all about finding what works for you. But many people get lost during the research stage because they don’t know where to start.
One of the easiest ways to do research is right in front of you. Yep. It’s the internet. It’s an entire world of knowledge at your fingertips. You just have to use discernment in finding reputable information. Many newspapers and libraries offer online databases of articles. You may be able to find good information there. Many states also have online cemetery databases that can help you research birth and death dates (if you know where someone is buried.)
Even though many libraries provide online information, there is nothing quite like going in and talking to someone in person. Some libraries have their own archives that can be accessed simply by making an appointment. Try and make friends with the librarians and they may take some extra time to help point you in the right direction.
One of the best sources of information you can find is located at historical societies. They often collect old publications, maps, and letters. The people that work there are usually incredibly knowledgeable about the history of an area and most of them love having an opportunity to share their knowledge.
If you can’t find information about a specific person online, sometimes a visit to a cemetery can be useful. It is time consuming, but headstones can provide you with all sorts of information. As strange as it sounds, I’ve actually met people at cemeteries while doing research that were more than willing to share helpful information. You might be surprised at how many history nuts, archivists, and genealogists hang around old cemeteries.
Sometimes the best source of information is simply asking questions to the business or home owners where you are investigating. I try and interview as many people as possible before an investigation to find out as much as I can. Things like ‘who used to live there?’ ‘Did anyone die there?” or just “what do you know about that place?” can be great conversation starters.
When it comes to doing research you can’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. You’re sure to come out with a wealth of information and maybe even some new friends!
Do you have any techniques you use when doing research?