Genealogy Friday: The Importance of sources in Genealogy

Sources are very important in genealogy.  These provide the proof that is needed to document each person’s life.

In genealogy there is such a things as a standard of proof.  Too often information is provided that is inaccurate and untrue.  I wish I’d known more about this when I began, because I’m still fixing those early omissions and mistakes.

Document, Document, Document ALL sources
Document, Document, Document ALL sources

The five parts of the GPS are:

  • A reasonably exhaustive search
  • Complete and accurate source citations
  • Analysis and correlation of the collected information
  • Resolution of conflicting evidence
  • A soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion


With sources, you can back up the information that is found.

There are two types of standards:

Primary— this is where the individual in question provides the information {ie…marriage certificate, land record, census records, military records, etc.}

Secondary—this is where someone else provides the information {ie…death certificate, census records, family histories, etc.}

Keep track of your documents and sources
Keep track of your documents and sources

There are a variety of suggestions on how to document these sources.  However, I’ve found you can never fail if you include the source with each notation in your records.  That way you do not have to go back and attempt to find where the information came from later on.  This can save you a number of headaches later on.

When sharing family history with others, I am more open to accepting information that provides sources and documentation than one that doesn’t.  However, always check and double check these sources for yourself.

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