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Leading Questions for Researching an Individual

The following is an archived post from the IHB blog Marking Hoosier History.

Leading Questions is a series provided to help researchers get started. The questions below are intended to be broadly applicable for use by researchers at any level of experience. If you are an applicant for an Indiana State Historical Marker, answer these questions using primary sources to support your findings; you should then have a very strong application! Keep in mind that several Leading Questions issues may be applicable to your marker topic.

Not sure where to find the answers to these questions? Start with the Research Checklist IHB uses when beginning a research project, and try to visit these local resources. No matter where you find the answers, be sure to keep track of what you found and where you found it with citations! Also keep track of sources that did not prove helpful at the time; it can save time later as your research proceeds.

Leading Questions for Researching an Individual

  • What is the full name of the individual? What is the legal or preferred name?
  • What is the date and place of birth/death? Where is the individual buried?
  • What makes this person significant? What was happening in the state/nation that affected the individual or that the individual influenced or changed?
  • Where did the person live? How much time – and what years – did the individual spend in Indiana?
  • If relevant, where and when was the individual educated?
  • What and when were the occupations, craft, or important roles of the individual?
  • How is this person different from others who made contributions in the same arena/field/career?
  • How did the person contribute to or have an impact on the economy, culture, politics, environment, etc., in the local, state, national, or international setting?
  • Was this person’s race/religion/gender a contributing factor to his/her significance? What related obstacles had to be overcome to achieve goals?
  • What were the activities of the individual – voluntary boards, religious affiliation, professional associations, clubs, elected offices, etc.?
  • After retirement from public life, what did this individual do? Where did this person live? What other information can you provide about the individual’s later years?
  • What is the lasting impact of this person on Indiana or the country?
  • What sites/buildings in the community – home, business, etc. – have strong associations with the individual?