Thursday, November 5, 2015

Genealogy Do-Over Cycle 4, Week 5

Genealogy Do-Over Toolbox 2015

My genealogy toolbox began about four years ago when I started to use Google for documents, books and newspapers. I had an old "toolbox" but I have since deleted it and now only use the one I created in January 2015, I have also kept my new one updated too. My Genealogy Toolbox has a little bit of everything. To see my toolbox click here.  

Citing Sources

Like many beginning genealogists I did not cite my sources, I collected names and trusted what I found in genealogical family histories in libraries or was given by other researchers without checking the facts for myself. I have since learned that all of that is a big no-no! Don't get me wrong I truly appreciate the work done by other family members before me especially since they did not have the resources I have today. 

I use public online trees and research material which has been given to me (but with no sources) as a springboard. This allows me to see (1) what information is out there, (2) it allows me to see what others have done and perhaps look at the records they may have attached to the profile of the person I am interested in, and (3) it allows me to garner new leads or perhaps point me in a direction I had not considered previously. From this I begin my search for evidence and as I go through my steps I can weed out what doesn't apply and if I am lucky perhaps find new leads and information.

How I View Sources

I now look at sources in a different way now than I did before. Here is how I see sources. I recently watched a Legacy Family Tree Webinar by Warren Bittner titled "Complex Evidence - What is it? How Does It Work? And Why Does It Matter?" He gave the best explanation I have heard for sources. To me it made perfect sense!

My usual modus operandi was to do the following:  
  • Establish Proof of Identity and Family Relationships
  • Establish Your Evidence - Birth, Marriage, & Death records, Residency, Church records, land records, wills & probate records and work records.  
  • How does the evidence relate to the person or persons you are researching.
Here is what Mr. Bittner said:

Evidence analysis uses sources, information and evidence.There are three types of sources, (1) Original - the first time that the information is recorded; (2) Derivative - information that has been copied, transcribed, abstracted, repeated, reproduced with alterations or summarized and (3) authored - it is a hybrid work of information of historical narratives by persons who study a variety of sources and then synthesize the findings. From the study of these sources, they a conclusion and then they develope a new piece of written information. Next is information and there are three types, (1) Is it primary? (2) Is it secondary? [second hand information] and finally (3) Unknown - you don't know who, what or where the information came from. Next is evidence and there are three types of evidence, (1) Direct Evidence- will answer the question(s) by itself; (2) Indirect Evidence - must be combined with other information to answer the question(s) and (3) Negative Evidence - research with negative results.
Now my modus operandi is little more clearer, I think. Here is how I am now looking at my research.
  • Establish Proof of Identity -  do I have the right person & family
  • Establish Evidence - gathering all documents for each family member including but not limited to birth, marriage & death, records, census records, church records, land records, wills & probate records and work records. I now go through each piece of evidence looking for the following:
    • Is it Original? Derivative? or Authored?
    • Is it Primary? Secondary? or Unknown
    • Is it Direct? Indirect? or Negative Evidence?
Now when I am looking at evidence I can add to my folder/notebooks sheets for each of the categories described above. Here is the what that sheet looks like click here  

Source Citations 

All source citations have the following information in them: Author's First & Last name, Title, Publisher and Date right? Not exactly. The source citation should include the following information: Author's First & Last name, Title, Publisher, Locator Information (ie: page or pages), and if it is an online source you will need to include the Date the source was accessed or retrieved, Examined (you examine the document for reference to John Doe) and it may have to be a layered citation. Elizabeth Shown Mills describes a layered as
A form of citation needed when a source has been processed through multiple media, thereby complicating its description and statement  of provenance; separate layers identify the image record (when a image is provided), the film or digital publication that provides the image or extracted data, the providers own identification of its source, and (when needed) comments on the source's quality or other relevant issues.

I am working on post that was suppose to be a Tombstone Tuesday piece but it is now much longer and will probably be published in two separate posts. Here is the citation I wrote for this family's 1900 Census record:
1900 United States Census, Chatham County, Georgia, population schedule, Militia District 4 Savannah city Ward Troup, Barton, enumeration district (ED): 68, sheet: 3B, Dwelling # 47, family 59, Lines 85-91, Frederick Schwarz household (including a servant & boarder), database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 30 October 2015), citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,240,186.
My plan now is to carefully track all of my sources using both an evidence evaluation sheet and a source summary sheet. When using my summary source sheet only part of it is in a permanent because I open this document as I make citations, then cut and paste into the document itself. You can see it here.

If you would like to view my week 5 post from the original cycle of the Genealogy Do-Over click here.


Bittner, F. Warren, "Complex Evidence - What Is It? How Does It Work? And Why Does It Matter?", Legacy Family Tree Webinars ( : 30 October 2015) Mills, Elizabeth Shown, Evidence Explained Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage, Quick Lesson 19: Layered Citations Work Like Layered Clothing ( : 5 November 2015)

Copyright © Dawning Genealogy/Dawn M Kogutkiewicz 2014-2015, All rights reserved.  

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