Tips from the Pros: Audit Your Sources

from Juliana Smith 

When we’re up against one of those brick walls that just won’t budge, we’re often advised to review the information we’ve gathered. This is good advice, but it works better if we also review our sources. Play devil’s advocate and examine the possibility that one or more of the sources could contain incorrect information that has been misleading you. Typically sources created nearer the actual event, and/or by an actual witness to the event are more likely to be correct. If you find you’ve missed recording a source for an event or fact, try to recreate your research and locate the source of the information. Taken in small steps, you may find that this “audit” of the sources you’ve used may provide you with a door in that brick wall.

5 thoughts on “Tips from the Pros: Audit Your Sources

  1. You would think that a death certificate on a father would be correct when filled out by his son and be a very good source.
    When I first started I obtained the death certificate on John Marshall Eakin. His son, William , had supplied the info and stated that the father of John, or his grandfather, was John B. Eakin form Virginia. This caused a brick wall for all who was searching for the family from the start. John B. Eakin could not be found.
    Not one to give up it took me many years to prove the certificate info wrong. I found the father of John Marshall Eakin was William Eakin from Mississippi, and in doing so found many new cousin and family lines.

    Wanda Eakin Lentz
    Snellville, Ga.

  2. Some of the LDS information is so drastically wrong! They repeat and repeat the wrong information. I thought they authenticated all they published, but not true. I wish there was a way to delete the wrong and publish the right.

  3. I have found the death records to be one of the best and worst source, Great grandfathers name was listed several different ways on each of his childrens death certificates, except I had somewhat of a match on one to the info I got on line, I was very skeptical of the online info and just kept searching for clues. Even his headstone said a different name. I finally found his signature on all of his childrens birth/church records and it was actually true to the online info, which I am finding what I was skeptical of a year ago is now coming true!!! Keep digging, never give up, I believe our ancesters want to be remembered, they want us to know how they lived.

  4. I have found errors in the family bible and on death records. As mentioned it is just humans that are recording the info and we need to keep digging.
    By accident I found the one burial record and records for children’s baptism in a church archives while I was looking for a different family name. The religion was differet than what was on the census and that threw us off track.
    Thankfully I always have my “if only I could find” list with me.

  5. THIS IS SO INTERESTING & HELPFUL,I MISS NOT GETTING THE NEWSLETTERS! I LOVED ANCESTRY DAILY NEWS,THEN ONCE A WEEK, THEN WE MOVED FROM PHILA.PA. TO JERSEY & I`VE HAD A PROBLEM EVER SINCE—GUESS WE`LL HAVE TO MOVE BACK (don`t think we almost didn`t) I`LL KEEP TRYING. THANK YOU. EVELYN emkonsler@comcast.net

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