We often talk about historical context like a side dish: it adds color and life to our narratives and deepens the analysis in our client reports. Rarely, however, do we think of historical research as a main course, a proactive strategy. This case study demonstrates not only the potential of historical research as a tool, but how that tool can be effective in the most challenging cases.
Thomas Chapman wasn’t typical of New York City immigrants at the turn of the nineteenth century. His reported birthplace of Bengal prompted more questions than answers, and FAN searches in New York produced no leads. Ultimately, a combination of historical research, DNA evidence, and traditional genealogical methods across three continents revealed the identities of his parents.