Many beginning researchers have to learn what it means to bear the burden of proof for what you find. It is so easy to get caught up in the excitement of the find that they forget to gather the proper documentation for the facts they discover. When I first began so many years ago I would visit the Library copy a great deal of information, get excited and then leave. When I got home to put the documentation with the facts I often found my references missing the proper documentation. I knew it was my job to bear the burden of proof; but I was having so much fun that I forgot to copy the first pages with the details on the records I was working with.
Often experience is the best teacher and no matter how many times we hear a principle taught until we run up against the consequences of not listening we don't always remember the best procedures when accomplishing a task.
So from experience I have learned.
1. Always copy the first page of the book or film I am copying and attach it to my papers until I get home.
2. Document as I go not 10 days later when I don't remember all the details of the record well.
3. Create a trail that will lead other researchers to the works I found.
That includes dates, authors, repositories, microfilm numbers, ets.
4. Include all important documentaion pertaining to the original source. What type of record was it. Include Book Number Page or Record Number whenever possible.
5.Keep a reference log of what I use as I do my research. That way I know what wasn't of value and don't repeat my work next time I go.
6. Take lots of pencils and change.
7. Copy, copy, copy. It's faster and I would rather waste a few coins then not have enough time to accomplish my task.
8. Have fun, don't rush.
9. Do my homework before I get to the repository I am visiting. I always take a list of what I want to look at and who I am trying to research on.
10. Always take an alternate research list when I run out of leads on the one I am working on.
When you get home don't forget the 2nd important step in a research trip the evaluation. Once again experience has taught me the following lessons.
1. Document all facts
2. Evaluate each and every record
3. Was the information primary or secondary, original or a copy
4. Why was the record generated
5. What do you know about the author.
7. Attack the Credibility of the Witness. Did they make inconsistent statements. Was the witness biased, was there a defect in the capacity of witness to observe or did another witness have a conflicting story.
8. Ask yourself could the record be wrong
9. Question the custody of Record and where has it been
Many researchers would tell you that any fact is worthless until its source is proven correct. A necessary step in research is proving true the sources you use however all facts gathered whether proven or not can lead to new trails and should be examined closely for possible clues and hints about your ancestors.
- Kat's Mountain Genealogy
- I am a genealogy enthusiast with over 40 years of experience in assisting others complete their family trees. I love helping others complete their own personal ancestory. I specialize in Research and Data Entry with an emphasis on Southern Research. I am vailable for Lectures on numerous topics and am always open to creating a class on a new Subject. I am a Member of the DAR, the DUP and Acting Vice President of the SCGA