SOURCES supply information. "What are you holding?" A question that is sometimes used to determine the source.In the world of the Web this question needs a bit of tweaking. The clerk's copy of a deed entered into a courthouse record book, a photocopied, photographed, microfilmed, or scanned copy of that deed are all considered original sources.


Unless a copy loses significant information, it is considered an original.


We cannot "hold" the database of grave markers that is on our computer
monitor unless we print it—yet, that is a source of information. If we can

derive information from an object—it is a source. 


  • The grave marker is an original source.
  • The database that contains extracted information from the marker

         is a derivative source. Sources are not equal, but all are cited.


INFORMATION  is knowledge of a fact. The knowledge may or may not

be correct and it is rarely given to a person studying the past in first-person

form. The date on the tombstone was carved by a stone mason who may

have chiseled the date of death or the date of burial. Perhaps he was looking

at a copy of a death certificate as his source of information. There are

several questions that could be asked about that information.     

​​​​What is analysis?

EVIDENCE provides grounds for belief that proves or disproves a conclusion. The professional genealogist must take widely scattered sources providing information, which, in turn, provides evidence. There are inherent biases in sources such as oral traditions or family records. We use the federal and state statutes to interpret the contents of legal documents.usions.

  • Direct evidence can stand alone as a fact, but may contain errors, so must be analyzed along with the whole of the evidence found. 
  • Indirect evidence must be supported by other sources of information for a conclusion to be drawn.
  • Conflicting evidence must be resolved. 

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                               The weight that is placed on any individual piece of evidence is

                                      an important part of the process of genealogical analysis. 

  • Is the record legible?
  • What was its provenance?
  • How was the informant related to the deceased?
  • Was it plausible that the informant was present at the person's birth?
  • Was it plausible that the informant was present at the person's death?
  • Is there contradictory information within the record? For example, if the deceased's age was calculated as 88 when he died and the birth and death dates indicate that he was 78, which piece of information is incorrect—the birth date, the date of death or both?
  • Does the information provided by the death certificate contradict information from other sources such as an obituary, sexton's record, or grave marker?