Genealogists' Forum - We have branches everywhere!



Go Back   Genealogists' Forum - We have branches everywhere! > Research > Family History General Discussion

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 11-03-21, 19:53
seh0872 seh0872 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2017
Posts: 6
Default Multiple source questions

Hey all...

I have a few questions to better understand how those of you who are meticulous about sourcing handle some common scenarios.

First, understand that yes, I know that original source material is always preferable -- and when you find it, often you can use it as your primary source. I understand the whole concept of evidence reliability and the basic principles of evidence.

In a lot my research, however, I am relying on secondary sources -- things like vital records indexes, 19th century compiled genealogies, and regional history texts.

Often a family from ages ago can appear in multiple books -- sometimes with identical information, sometimes without. I suspect that often later works used or relied on earlier works, but they are not often cited, so its hard to know.

Anyway, I have two goals:
1. Fully document the source of all information in my file, even if such source is questionable.
2. Keep track of the resources I've used and information I've already reviewed so that I don't duplicate my efforts.

With these goals in mind, I first started to use source codes in the notes field of my genealogy program, but I've started to go back to convert them to proper and complete sources. In doing so, I've come across the following conundrums:

1. Most genealogy programs do not allow a separate source for date and location (for example birthdate and birthplace). However, sometimes the date is sourced from one source, and the place from another. When this is the case, how do you make it clear in your citation that only part of the information was gathered from that source?

2. Sources can certainly disagree with each other. When that happens, if I have sufficient corroborating evidence to know which source is correct, I will cite only that source, but note the other source in my research notes to keep a record that a) data about the person was found in the source, and b) for x reason, it was determined to be erroneous.

But sometimes, you're not sure. When two sources disagree and you're not yet sure which is correct, how do you handle it such that you still keep a record of the sources you've reviewed?

3. Lastly, the older the ancestor, the more likely their information will appear in multiple sources -- often with identical information. The goal of sourcing is to support the data, not be an index of everywhere the data can be found. If it is clear that a source used another source, I'll either a) append the citation with a "citing..." reference, or b) not cite the source (but note it in my research notes).

How do handle multiple sources when it is not clear that they borrowed from each other? Do you cite them all? Only cite one (and if so, which one -- the oldest?). Do you record them all in notes? Ignore some of them (and if you do this, how do you keep track so you don't revisit that source)?

I hope my questions are clear. I know its a long post, but I appreciate your responses. Although I am a U.S.-based researcher doing a lot of early New England work, this board is pretty much the only genealogy board that is active.

Thanks in advance!

Scott
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 11-03-21, 20:41
Phoenix's Avatar
Phoenix Phoenix is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 7,373
Default

Meticulous is NOT my middle name - largely because English sources are usually self evident. However....

My offline tree allows me to assign level of trust in a source - from dubious to convincing.

It also allows me to create additional facts, so you could have birthplace and birth date as separate fields. I would imagine that a birthplace without a birth date has got to be an unreliable source - in that it is recalled after the event, rather than contemporaneously.

I have used Heraldic Visitations - where men provided proof to the heralds of their ancestors. The only facts I would trust are a man knowing the names of his wife, his father, and his children. You can see errors, ommissions and duplications, particularly where brothers provide the information. And I have heard of men bribing heralds to produce a convincing (and utterly bogus) pedigree.

I would find it difficult to rely on a printed history devoid of sources, but I assume that even if vital records are missing, there are wills, land documents, legal disputes, membership of bodies etc?

I profoundly dislike ploughing in someone else's furrow, as I am never convinced that they were right and there isn't an alternative narrative that I will not spot.
__________________
The chestnuts cast their flambeaux
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 11-03-21, 21:31
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 5,585
Default

I agree entirely with Phoenix's observations. My full tree is on paper which makes it much easier to accommodate lots of notes about conflicting information. Generally speaking, I record the earliest primary record as fact (although I have at least two of those which I know not to be true - I have appended notes to this effect and the reasons).

Once we get into printed genealogies, I have two major works I refer to, both of which I have checked against primary records. One has turned out to be 100% accurate, the other about 95%. Where my research differs, I quote both the printed genealogy and my personal research.

Heralds Visitations do indeed differ and I have coped with this by putting both/all versions in my tree - easy on paper. Sometimes a random piece of evidence comes to light which clarifies one or the other but Ia lways leave the "wrong" version just in case. It is easy to scribble in sources on paper and as my research methods have always been to browse a whole resource, I usually know where I have looked, so that I don't repeat searches.

OC
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-03-21, 08:17
Merry's Avatar
Merry Merry is online now
Administrator
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Near Christchurch, Dorset
Posts: 22,067
Default

I'm not sure I was call myself meticulous either, though I am where I have researched controversial data and I'm the only one who is right!!

Like Phoenix, my offline tree (Brother's Keeper) allows me to assign level of trust in a source for individual events and also allows any amount of additional information to be incorporated within the notes for a given source.

Duplicating efforts is a double-edged sword as obviously it's annoying if time is wasted revisiting something where there is nothing new to be learned, but how many times have I accidentally (!) revisited an old source only to find it leads to something new that perhaps wasn't available before.
__________________
Merry

"Something has been filled in that I didn't know was blank" Matthew Broderick WDYTYA? March 2010
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-03-21, 08:46
Phoenix's Avatar
Phoenix Phoenix is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 7,373
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Merry View Post

Duplicating efforts is a double-edged sword as obviously it's annoying if time is wasted revisiting something where there is nothing new to be learned, but how many times have I accidentally (!) revisited an old source only to find it leads to something new that perhaps wasn't available before.

Or see something that was staring me in the face, but I had ignored
__________________
The chestnuts cast their flambeaux
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-03-21, 08:58
Merry's Avatar
Merry Merry is online now
Administrator
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Near Christchurch, Dorset
Posts: 22,067
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phoenix View Post
Or see something that was staring me in the face, but I had ignored
Well, yes.... or that!
__________________
Merry

"Something has been filled in that I didn't know was blank" Matthew Broderick WDYTYA? March 2010
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-03-21, 09:00
Olde Crone Olde Crone is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 5,585
Default

As my research progresses, I do revisit old sources because, as Phoenix and Merry both say, new knowledge often requires another look.

I hardly ever refer to other people's trees and if they don't supply sources I don't look further. There are 30+ trees out there with my 7 x ggm on them. They have all picked up the wrong baptism and this is not her. They have all copied from each other. This isn't controversial, it's just plain wrong, no point even referring to it.

OC

Last edited by Olde Crone; 12-03-21 at 21:08.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-03-21, 20:52
marquette's Avatar
marquette marquette is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Australia
Posts: 1,193
Default

I must agree with the ladies, I am not meticulous in recording my sources, although in my Ancestry tree and my offline (PAF) tree, I try to indicate that I have looked further than just a census or birth index record.

If I have looked at an image of the parish register, I can record the exact date of a marriage and the witnesses, for a baptism, the abode and the fathers occupation, and the date of birth if its included.

My offline PAF software is now out of date, but I have not found another I truly prefer. It allows me to record multiple sources for entries and where there is conflict or other need, there is a good notes section where I can put in thoughts or queries. One such is the case of Sarah Wilford, who if you believe the on-line trees was baptised in 1803, witnessed a marriage in 1815 and married in 1816 - notes galore on the whys and wherefores.

I did start going back over my off-line tree and try to record sources for everyone and document what I have, but after 300 people, I have paused this project to pursue DNA matches. Like the others, by re-visiting previously checked records, I have spotted something I missed the first time - a sibling or cousin further down the page, or next door neighbours on the census.

In my review, I just indicated whether I had a BMD certificate and its number, or just an index entry, whether I had seen the baptism register, or Bishop's Transcripts (or image on Ancestry or familysearch), or if the information was personal knowledge of a family member or entry in a family Bible.

As with the others, I don't copy from anyone's tree, I note down the details then look at a census or marriage then birth records to confirm. The number of times I check a DNA match's Common Ancestor, a find a fundamental mistake, I cannot tell you. Simple things like checking for a mothers maiden name in the birth indexes would lead to the correct family.

Di
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT. The time now is 07:39.


Hosted by Photon IT

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7 PL3
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.