Historical Fudgery

A friend was asking opinions about research for historical fantasy recently, and I thought about one rule I try to apply:

If I can’t find the answer on the internet (or locate a book that will have the answer) after an hour of searching, then it’s likely that very few of my readers will know whether or not I’m wrong.

Let me give you an example. In one of my historical pieces, there’s a building mentioned. Now I know the company was founded in 1901. I know they were founded in that city. What I was never able to determine was when they built the building they’re in.

I scoured books about the city (I own several), hoping to catch a glimpse of the building. I scoured the company’s website. I spent WAY more than an hour stressing about this, but finally decided to take a leap and say it was, indeed, there in 1905.

To this point, no one has called me on it. I’m hoping I got lucky on that one. But it had truly reached the point of diminishing returns.

Do you have any specific rule about how much you’re wlling to research something historical?

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