How Good Is That Record? Evaluating Sources [video]

by Amy Johnson Crow | Aug 7, 2013

Amy Johnson Crow

As you continue climbing your family tree, it is only a matter of time before you find records that don't agree with each other. A birth record, a death record, and a tombstone might all give a different date of birth. How can you know which one - if any - is right?

The first thing to realize is that not all records are accurate. There are several reasons for this. The person giving the information may not have known the facts that they were reporting on. Someone might have written it down incorrectly. There is the possibility that someone was being less than truthful. Think about a death certificate. How well did the informant know the deceased? Did he or she know that person's date and place of birth or his or her parents?

In this video, we will review some of the things to consider when you're evaluating evidence. Being able to judge how accurate (or inaccurate) a record is will help you sort through the records that don't seem to fit. (You should also read Harold Henderson's article "How to Handle Conflicting Evidence: A Six-Step Program.") 

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