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Today, there is tension between "big data" research and in-depth studies of lives. This article provides a background on in-depth studies where researchers seek to understand individual lives in all of their variations. In-depth research has a long and rich history, starting with the Chicago School of Sociology in the first third of the twentieth century and extending to today. Grounded theory approaches, deductive qualitative analysis, and phenomenological research are among the many contemporary approaches that have deep roots in the Chicago School. Big data studies shows general tendencies of a relatively small number of variables, but cannot account for the complex meanings that persons experience in their daily lives. Both types of research provide important information. This 100-page article is for graduate students and more experienced researchers who are looking for a relatively brief yet in-depth look at the roots of today's qualitative research. The article is divided into three sections, the early history, the middle years, and contemporary times.

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