An organized and methodical approach to studying an individual in history is using James Rose’s method of these four important influences.
Key People: who was important to this individual? Family, friends, teachers, pastors, neighbors, employers–any of them can be instrumental in forming this person’s character and life choices.
Key Events: what happened to shape who they are? This key lends itself to a timeline to get a visual of how their life developed through the years, and also allows you to see what other things were happening in the world that could have had a remote influence as well.
Key Institutions: what type of education, government, worldview, financial system and philosophy contributed to the individual’s
Key Documents: what religious, governmental, and educational documents were in the individual’s sphere of influence? What correspondence was exchanged? Did they contribute writings or other creative works? What literature was important to them?
Studying these four keys will give you great insight into the individual and help you form a clear picture of them as a 3 dimensional person in history, not just a name in a book.