Conducting Thorough Research.

On March 23, 2014, in Guides, by Terry Crew

When you hear a Ghost Hunter or Paranormal Investigator say that they are ‘doing an investigation’, there should always be a research phase.  Sadly, most research nowadays is done online, and from unreliable sources.  Don’t get me wrong, another group’s findings are definitely valuable, and a Youtube video is extremely easy to watch and retain something from.  But the problem is, your group will go in looking for exactly the same findings.

Here are a few key tools we employ when doing research for our investigations:

1. Personal Interviews

Maybe there was a former resident, someone who worked in the affected area, or even another Paranormal group.  This kind of research is priceless.  And, it is important to remember that all research does not have to be in favor of the Paranormal.  Sometimes, a leveled headed person who says, “There’s nothing here, Joe is crazy.”, is right on.  Sometimes they can provide you with insight that you might not have seen, when you are bombarded with everyone wanting to share their own ghost story with you.

Interviews can be conducted through email, on the phone, in person, over Skype, or any other format.  I always like to let the person know the points that will be discussed and give them the questions in advance so they can gather all their knowledge to make the interview productive.  While written interviews are easy to share, there are programs and ways to record interviews in person (with a Camera), on Skype, or over the phone.  Always ask permission prior to recording someone!

2. Primary Sources

There is nothing like an article in the newspaper from the times, to prove that something actually happened.  This is what makes the difference between an urban legend, and something that actually happened and can be backed up.  For example; John died here in 1926, when in actuality, no such person existed.  Or, sometimes history is warped and they died someone else, but spent a good portion of their time there.  Primary sources, or things from the time, are a great way to determine the truth.

You can generally find great sources at the local library, or the county’s historical society.  Google has recently started uploading newspapers from the times, so you may be able to find somethings online from long ago!  If you can’t find what you are looking for, broaden your search.  For example; “Trenton jail murder” might be far too specific.  Maybe you need to search for “Trenton murder” and sort through the different murders that have occurred in the city.

3. Books and library resources.

The internet is great, but oftentimes repetitious and only skims the surface of things.  Also, it can be far less reliable than a good ole fashioned book.  Nobody of course, can say that even a book is a reliable source.  As an investigator, you have to determine what is solid evidence, and what is pure speculation.  People love to pass on stories, and just like the telephone game, things can get changed over the years.  Small details can be found though, and sometimes you can reach out to the authors who are eager to share things with you.

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