Applying The Scientific Method to Genealogical Research (Part 3)

My cousin and I attempted to use The Scientific Method to answer the question of where Bertha Danko is buried.  At the end of the first iteration of The Scientific Method where we tested the hypothesis that Bertha Danko is buried in an unmarked grave in Hope Cemetery, Worcester, Massachusetts, we concluded that either Bertha Danko is not buried in Hope Cemetery, there is an error or omission in the cemetery records, or the clerk at the cemetery did not conduct an accurate and thorough search.

Undaunted (or perhaps mostly undaunted), we prepared to engage in another iteration of The Scientific Method.  Realizing that there are other sources of information that may mention the location of Bertha’s burial, we returned to Step 2, Gather information and resources.  In the following summary, I have preceded the number of each step in The Scientific Method with the number 2, in order to indicate that this is the second iteration of The Scientific Method.

2-2.  Gather information and resources:  The location of Bertha’s burial may be included in her death record.  Death records exist for the 1910-1915 time period in Massachusetts and are located in the Massachusetts State Archives.
2-3.  Form new hypothesis:  Bertha’s death record includes her place of burial.
2-4.  Perform experiment and collect data:  Go to the Massachusetts State Archives and search for Bertha’s death record.
2-5.  Analyze data:  Bertha’s death record was found under the name Bronislawa Danko.
2-6.  Interpret data and draw conclusions:  Bronislawa’s death record does not reveal her place of burial, but states, among other things, that she was 1 year 11 days old at the time of death, that she was buried on 15 Jan 1913, and that the undertaker was Lucian Karolkiewicz.

As in the first iteration, we formed a testable hypothesis for the second iteration.  The experiment in this iteration involved searching for Bertha’s death record in the Massachusetts State Archives.  While successful in locating the death record for Bertha Danko, the record itself did not disclose the place where Bertha was buried.  Nonetheless, we learned quite a bit in this iteration.  We learned that Bertha Danko’s real name was Bronislawa Danko, and we learned her age at death, her date of burial, and the name of the undertaker.

In Part 4 of this series, I will discuss how we used the data from Bronislawa’s death record to develop a new hypothesis for the next iteration of The Scientific Method.

For other posts in this series, please see:

Copyright © 2010 by Stephen J. Danko

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