New to Genealogy?


 Ancestral identification and relationships are what it’s all about. Sources provide the information you seek for your family forms. It’s tempting to write down the first piece of data you find about your ancestor (example: his date of birth or death) as a conclusion and rush on to the next event or ancestor. It’s also tempting to trust and copy bits and pieces of online family trees, even though too many are questionable or unsourced. Rather than collecting as many ancestors as possible, it’s best to collect as much information as possible about one ancestor before proceeding on ? information you have viewed or heard yourself. As you learn to explore a variety of sources, you will frequently find additional information about each event in the life of one ancestor. Some of it may not all agree.

Information provides the evidence for conclusions about identity and relationships. Naturally you want to feel confident about any “fact” you determine for an ancestor. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) is a term you will come across, a best-practice guide developed to test the breadth and depth of one’s research results. Each fact we want to determine requires diligent consideration of various pieces of information that become evidence as related to a specific event.

One reference resource is the OGS publication Genealogical Standards of Evidence by Brenda Dougall Merriman, giving a description of the GPS and a simple walk-through example.

where you obtained information makes your growing accumulation so much easier to manage. You will thus have a record of your searches, finding that you often need to return to the same source more than once. More importantly, you will be able to compare the validity of different sources as information providers. You are creating a family legacy; at some point you will want to share, distribute, or publish (perhaps upload) your best possible research results.

Keeping track means making a note for the source of each piece of information you enter on your family tree ?was the source a document? a person? a book? a website? The note is called a citation, and should contain the fundamental elements:
– the name of the record set or database you consulted
– who (person or institution) created the source
– in what visual form (original paper, microfilm, digital) did you view it
– where is the source located
– specific page and/or numerical references

A useful online reference, Citations for Canadians, can be found on the website of the Association of Profession Genealogists Ontario Chapter.

A useful online reference for writing clear accurate citations is Citation Styles Online!