From a chapter called "Pursuits of the Paper Trail". I don't have the book's title.

 
 
RESEARCHING GAIL SMITH 
Here are tips on backgrounding a subject named Gail Smith:
Check newspaper clips in all cities in which Gail Smith has lived or worked. Don't dismiss the social section. It is often the best source of news. In wedding announcements, for example, it will list long-term friends in the wedding party who can describe Smith's family and personality. It will probably include education and employment at that period in her life. Be careful to check the facts yourself, especially when the clips come from another city and you don't know the reporter who covered that story. Civil suits and depositions filed at the county or federal courthouse with those suits can be crucial if Gail Smith refuses to talk to you. Find out who is suing her and get to that person and his attorney. They may have papers of Smith's or know others who dealt with her. Depositions may not be in the file so be sure to ask the attorney if they have been put somewhere else. These are sworn statements and often begin with biographical data. It would be hard for Smith to allege statements you use from a deposition are wrong.
A city directory probably can be found in your newsroom library or the city library The directory will list job, address and possibly family. If Smith is not a wealthy or prominent person and has no clips in your news library but has lived in town, go back at least 10 years in the city directory and come forward. As you see her move, you can tell by the area of town that she is making more money. This will help you track her jobs and you can go back to the companies and ask about her habits and work performance. Also, if her husband disappears from the listing, check the courthouse for the probate or divorce files. Professional associations usually in the state capital offer another source of good background. Organizations for nursing home owners and operators, beauticians, funeral home directors, bail bondsmen, attorneys and doctors require members to fill out applications which include date of birth, education, any lawsuits or convictions and often a picture. Many times, Smith may put down references, so there are additional sources to call.
Divorce records found at the county courthouse yield tons of information. The divorce record looks like a lawsuit and will list spouse, date of marriage, any children and their ages and perhaps even who gets what property. This could include real estate, boats, cars and other items which can give a glimpse into Smith's financial condition. Some states permit this information to be sealed, but it's worth asking about. Death certificates are found at the state health department and offer a wide range of tips including birthdate, place of birth, cause of death, next of kin, doctor and funeral home. The funeral home might tell you that Gail Smith's expenses were paid by a life insurance policy listing a nurse at the nursing home as a beneficiary.