This project is more research-heavy than any I’ve taken on in the past, and I’m starting to develop systems for completing and documenting that research. My process, so far, involves a lot of open tabs.
I leave some sources open in my browser for weeks or months at a time, until I feel they’ve told me what they need to tell me. Other tabs come and go quickly, having served their purpose by answering a question. Were there synagogues in Rockford in the 19 century? (Not officially — the first was formed in 1906.) When did Nelson Knitting secure the patent for the sock monkey? (1955.)
A snapshot of these tabs on any given day will tell you what I’m mulling over in the project. For instance, right now I have open:
MoMA’s page on Lilly Reich
An article on the opening of the Rainbo Room at the Faust Hotel, from the Rockford Public Library archive
A real estate listing for the Atwood house
An oral history with Monk Teba about Rockford’s Black Panther Party, from the Midway Village Museum digital collection
A Google Earth tour of the Rock River recreation path
Who knows what little bits of information will find their way into the story? For this reason, before closing any tab, I dutifully catalog it in my “Sources” file, where I save articles or books or images that I may need to cite or that I know I’ll want to return to it at some point.
And then I think of another question and open another tab.