Thursday, February 08, 2007

Genealogical Evidence

Hello All -

What I thought I would discuss this time around is how to evaluate your family history evidence (i.e. where did you get your facts from, is it reliable, what is your source, etc.). One of the main responsibilities in family history research is to cite sources and make sure that the facts put out are as accurate as possible (in the back of a genealogical researcher's mind there should always be the possibility that someone will use their research information).

The evaluation of evidence is also called "proof." How do you know that? Where did you get that from? Do you have documentation for that? There are lots of questions you should ask yourself when doing your research to make sure that things are right. If there is any doubt or uncertainty about a fact or statement about an ancestor it should be stated as a possibility. For example, if you are not sure of a person's parents but there is a strong possibility it is a particular couple then it should be written down as a notation and not put in your pedigree. This is just to be on the safe side just in case you may be wrong - you don't want to lead any other researchers astray.

There are a number of informative websites that discuss this in greater detail listed below. Some good ones that I have found are:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~bbunce77/PrimaryVSecondary.html
http://www.pipeline.com/~richardpence/classdoc.htm
http://www.uwm.edu/~baugrud/helpfiles/evidence.html
http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=1657

To be a good family historian it is the researcher's responsibility to make sure that the facts (births, marriages, deaths, parentage, etc.) are on a solid foundation. It makes the research more rewarding as well - you can feel good that you have created a sound family history for yourself, your family, and others.

Until Next Time -

Carolyn of MGS