Talk:Analyzing your Genealogical Sources


Where to Start? [9 June 2009]

Hi Debbie: I know you've taken some thought on putting your first draft of this article together, and you have raised some valid concerns and good discussion items. I appreciate your effort and your intent, but I'm not sure where to start. Not to discourage you, but after going through it three times, at this point I think it's still too rough for me to contribute or make suggestions for modification to it. Hopefully others with more savvy writing abilities than I will be able to provide you with more helpful input to the article itself. But I'm not without some suggestions for additional resources on the subject.

You might want to review Elizabeth Shown Mills' acclaimed book, Evidence! for help in formulating the focus and formatting the content of your article. This book has been touted as the "best single source for genealogical documentation and a seminal discussion of genealogical analysis." Not meaning to promote commercial websites, but Amazon has the book available for sale at $13.56, and this link also groups this book and two others -- the Quicksheet Citing Online Historical Resources pamphlet by Elizabeth Shown Mills, and the Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case book by Christine Rose for $28.46. The description for the latter reads, "The Genealogical Proof Standard is the standard set by the genealogical field to build a solid case, especially when there is no direct evidence providing an answer, or when there are conflicts in the evidence. This easy-to-read guide clearly sets forth the elements of this standard, and how to apply it to resolve genealogical problems."

Elizabeth Mills also has another book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace which, as the sale promotion states, “provides citation models for most historical sources—especially original materials not covered by classic citation guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style. Beyond that it can help us understand each type of record and identify each in such detail that we and our readers will know not only where to go to find our source, but, equally important, the nature of that source so that the evidence can be better interpreted and the accuracy of our conclusions properly appraised.”

RootsWeb has an excellent guide for evidence and sources in genealogical research, "Creating Worthwhile Genealogies for our Families and Descendants", where it covers the nature, types and forms of evidence; and evaluates sources, gives examples of citations, and explains pertinent documentation.

One final suggested reading item, a creation by Mark Tucker based upon three publications by Elizabeth Shown Mills, The Genealogy Process chart is an outstanding resource that has helped me in all phases of the genealogical research process, and encapsulates an explanation of the Genealogical Proof Standard extremely well. (And it's free!)

BobC, THANK YOU for posting this. What a great chart! I love it. I also concur with your feedback to dfree that this article might be stronger if it were an annotated list of steps, linking to existing resources. jillaine 09:44, 9 June 2009 (EDT)

Good luck in your venture. --BobC 07:23, 17 April 2009 (EDT)


Hello BobC,

Thank You for taking the time and effort in reviewing this article. I really appreciate that. I do have the Shown materials, and I appreciated the link to the free chart. I do not have the Genealogical Proof Standard (Rose) book yet. I will probably purchase that soon though.

I hope everyone understood I was trying to create a group article, for any and all to do with it as they pleased to make it a better article, that might one day be helpful in WeRelate.

It has been a long time since I tried writing for any and all to see. --DFree 12:34, 17 April 2009 (EDT)


My thought then would be rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, shape it instead to serve a new purpose; that is, use the excellent resources, tips, methods, suggestions, rules and topics in the aforementioned publications for a WeRelate audience and wiki functionality. I give the following examples:
  • I know for instance, the pre-existing sources attached to my initial GEDCOM file I uploaded to WeRelate came out very awkward in appearance, cumbersome to read, and much too lengthy; I've had to modify and shorten them manually, change the source titles and further reformat them for functional and readable use in my family files.
  • The process in adding sources themselves, whether they be community sources ("Source") or personal sources ("MySource") is awkward, somewhat restrictive, and requires multiple entries for a thoroughly complete entry (e.g. adding Repository, Source, and Person data). Whether or not that can be changed is something someone may want to look at more closely.
  • Determining what is a primary source, secondary source, questionable source, or unreliable source may need to be looked at more closely.
  • Identifying the type and form of copyright on a source also seems restrictive even with the choices presented.
Just a few thoughts.--BobC 14:35, 17 April 2009 (EDT)