Analyzing your Genealogical Sources


This is my rough attempt at creating an article for the Source Portal on WeRelate. I am sure there are better examples of this Article on the Internet. Please feel free to edit, add, or correct this Article. Note to all - Grammar etc is not my strong point.

Analyzing your Genealogical Sources

You have started to research your ancestors, have a new brick wall, or have discovered your ancestor has a unique new wrinkle. Or you have located a new Community or My Source which might help you in researching your ancestor.

This article will hopefully help you start thinking in a new way. I will try to make this article applicable for all levels that exist in the genealogical community. The beginners, intermediate, and advance genealogical WeRelate Users. Since this article is made for WeRelate I will use terms used in WeRelate that are unique to it. I will use the term “Community Source” and “My Source” as examples.

These are the Basic Questions I ask myself when I have a new ancestor, a difficult ancestor, an ancestor with the same name syndrome, a new brick wall, or I have located a new source which might have my ancestor, etc:

How is this Community Source or MySource better than this one?

Why is a Community Source better than someone else GEDCOM on the internet?

A GEDCOM is probably going to be considered a “secondary source”. A GEDCOM listed as a Source does not tell you the person looking at that Ancestors Page or Family Page what community Source, or MY Source that GEDCOM was based on.

What makes this Community Source unique?

What new question? What new answer does it contain? What new information does it contain? How has the format or type of Source been changed?

Who Created the Community Source?

Ask yourself who created this Source.

Examples are an individual, religious organization, government, etc

When did this Creator come and or go out of existence?

Did they replace another Source Creator? Or did another Source Creator replace them?

The State of New York as an example went from of the jurisdiction of Native American, then Dutch, then an English colony, then the United States (Federal).

Was the Source created by the following?

Government: which level of Government?

Federal: Which Federal Agency? When did they come into existence? Who did they replace? What Agency replaced them?

State: When did this State come into existence, what was it before that?

County: When did this County come into existence? What was the county before that?

City: What did it replace? Was it a Township as an example? When did they create this city? Did they change the name?

Religious: How is this religious Community Source different or similar to other ones? What did they consider important and not important in this Community Source?

Which Religion?

Which Denomination if more than one exists? What level of the Religious Community created this? Is there a copy of this Source at the next level of jurisdiction? English Baptisms as an example. When did this Religious Community begin to exist? Did this religious community have a historical tie, or parent Community?

Why did they create the Source?

Keep in mind when this record was created no one ever though about us genealogist. What was the purpose of the Source when it was created? What historical, religious, or individual perspective shaped this Source? As an example the pre 1870 United States Federal Population Census does not usually lists African Americans, Native Americans.

What law created this record?

When did this law come in existence?

When did they tweak the source? What did they tweak? Examples are when they added the parents, or ask for more information.

When Did They Create the Source? Was this Source created during your Ancestors life time? When in his or her lifetime was the source created? Was it created with your ancestors input? Was it created after their lifetime, such as an obit?

Who took the Information? Did they know your ancestor, was it important to this person on how accurate the information, etc.

Who gave the information on the Source? Was it your ancestor who gave the information, or was it your ancestors relative? Was it given be someone not connected at all to your relative?

Why did they take this information?

They had a reason, what was it? How did it affect your ancestor because of the information on the Source think taxes as an example?

Who Gave the Information?

What other Community Sources is this tied to, or could be used with this Source?

Thoughts? Suggestions? Corrections?

--DFree 22:52, 15 April 2009 (EDT)