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 19th 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:
Articles about famous American grifters Clark Rockefeller and Anna Delvey
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.