Genealogy Studies Program

Evaluating Genealogical Evidence

Are you citation-challenged? A common problem many genealogists face is properly citing information taken from a large database site such as

Throughout your research, it is important to keep these questions in mind: Are you asking the right questions about your information? Is your source original or derivative? Is your information dependent or independent? You can’t properly use evidence if you are unable to evaluate it.

Only after you get a grip on these qualities can you begin to decide whether the information is true or accurate. My grandmother used to tell me about her valiant ancestor, a captain in the American Revolution. When I grew up and learned how to research I found he was a humble private who guarded the home fires in the local militia. Even the people you love can get things wrong. Trust, but verify!

Melinde Lutz Byrne