Besides having a lot of new, never-before-published information, one very important aspect of Alias Soapy Smith is the sources I had at my disposal. No other book about Soapy had access to many of them.
Family artifacts: Soapy considered himself a legitimate businessman; thus, luckily for us, he kept nearly all of his documents and correspondence. The family has thousands of these artifacts, and none has been published until Alias Soapy Smith. The collection is so vast that one could name any pivotal moment in Soapy's life, and there will most likely be at least one artifact pertaining to it. I personally possess nearly 170 artifacts and have copies of most of the rest of the family collection. These artifacts combined with the other sources reveal the most complete and fascinating history of the man thus told.
Interviews: I was raised in a household where the life of Soapy was regularly discussed and studied. Decades before I was born, the family spoke with numerous associates and friends of Soapy's. Some of these interviews were short question-and-answer episodes by letter while others were recorded on reel-to-reel tape. I remember one such interview as a child, when my father and his siblings talked and recorded an old friend of Soapy's who had known him in Denver and Skagway. I was allowed to watch and listen as I sat on the floor just outside the room but I was instructed to remain quiet and I did as I was told. In later years I had that recording transferred to a cd disk and no where can I, as a young boy, be heard. In later years I have been able to interview the children and grandchildren of people who had known Soapy. These interesting, first-hand pieces of history are carefully identified and utilized in the book.
Newspapers: Soapy saved newspaper clippings about himself. At one time he even hired a clipping service, which was a firm that would clip all the articles in which he was mentioned from newspapers across the U.S. For the bulk of the stories about Soapy I relied on microfilm collections of the old newspapers around the country. From the very start I knew that if I wanted to find everything I could on Soapy, I would have to read the newspapers, year-by-year, day-by-day, page-by-page. This work of many years covered an estimated 90,000 pages, and it has proved valuable. Uncovered were events and information never before republished in other books about Soapy Smith. Additionally, numerous news articles coincide with letters and documents in the family collection and add to the fullness of the story they tell.
Books: All written accounts of Soapy, especially those in books, were carefully examined. Information most pertinent among these sources are quoted in my book and critically assessed, including information that was incomplete and accounts discovered to be false. In other books, often facts were not sourced or documented and so were open to immediate suspicion of manipulation, embellishment, or outright fiction. Not wanting the same fate for Alias Soapy Smith, to the greatest extent possible, I have documented all facts and most evaluative statements with primary sources. I have taken nothing I read by other writers for granted, suspected the manipulation of everything presented as fact, and re-opened for examination all the old stories. In a number of instances, a completely different story emerged.
Museum and library collections: A wealth of information resides in state and private holdings—if you know where to look. Some information was so well hidden that it was found only by determination and sheer luck.