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Genealogical Proof Standard, Continued

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3. Evaluate the source as well as the information

Standards of Evidence

The Source – the format

Original - the first recording of an event by the person who wrote it down.
Derivative - a photocopy or digitized image of that document. Some items included in this category are abstracts, databases, extracts, transcripts, and translations.

Example:
Original – the entry of a baptism and birth date in a church register
Derivative – copy of the baptism certificate

The Information – the data

Primary - created at the time of the event.
Example:
Date of death on a death registration.

Secondary - provided by a person not present at the event.
Example:
Other information about the deceased

The Evidence - relevance

Direct – when it answers the question without needing evidence.
Example:
Mother supplies information for birth registration.

Indirect – circumstantial information that needs to be analyzed.
Example:
Date of birth in a census record.

4.  Note any contradictory evidence

This is where you would list all the sources you have used and note the discrepancies, if any, between them. An example of this would different ages or birth dates in church, census, military and obituary records.

5.  A written report

This is a detailed report that provides your analysis of the problem, details the evidence, and provides the documentation to support your conclusions.

Further Reading

  • BCG Standards Manual.
    Washington: Board for Certification of Genealogists. 2000.
  • Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogical Standards of Evidence.
    Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian.
    Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1997.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained. Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.
    Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007.
  • Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet Citing Online Historical Resources. Evidence Style.
    Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007.
 
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