[Research Notes] Setting Up Google Alerts

Researching J also means looking into the lives and careers of her producer-musician husband, R, and his first two wives (both singer-actresses). They’re all links in the same chain, after all. Although I’m not to the point where supporting players in her life are the focus of my work, when that time comes I don’t want to be overwhelmed with random-but-possibly-important information. To alleviate that anticipated avalanche of data, I’ve set up a bunch of Google Alerts. Included are R and his exes, his production companies/theater groups, and J’s son and daughter. When you add in name variations, there are more than a dozen active alerts.

Dealing with long-dead people means that weeks elapse between notifications. I usually forget that I set them up, to be honest. Seeing one pop up in my inbox is, for a second, cause for excitement. Every time. An excitement that, almost inevitably, ends in disappointment. I should know better by now, ya know. Of the last two received (within four days of each other–what?), neither was relevant to my cause. Sigh. Both involved articles with weird configurations of street names that more or less added up to one of my subjects’ monikers.

It’s not always a loss. Three alerts have panned out in big ways. Every tidbit of information is important; one would be enough to make the whole endeavor worthwhile. Serial yet temporary disappointment is a small price to pay for even one baby step in the correct direction!

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