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Genealogy Article

Credible Research

Documenting and citing the research sources is an important and often overlooked part of research. By documenting a source it eliminates the need to search the same source again and provides a paper trail for other researchers. Citing the sources supports information and conclusions and adds credibility to the work.

Records: Primary and Secondary Resources

Explanation

In genealogy the records obtained during research are referred to as either "primary" or "secondary" .

Primary records are usually original documents or copies of original documents. These records are considered the most reliable resources. Examples:

  • Diaries and Journals
  • Census Records
  • Court Records(Probate)-- Property Deeds, Will and Testament, Birth and death records
  • Church baptism or marriage records
  • Passenger lists
  • Military records.

Secondary records are records that are compiled or published based on original documents. Examples:

  • Family Histories
  • Indexes or compilations of cemeteries, marriage,biographies, etc...
  • Court Records(Probate)-- Property Deeds, Will and Testament, Birth and death records
  • Cemetery transcriptions

Examples

Event Primary Source Secondary Source
Birth Birth Certificate, Family Bible Entry Marriage License, Cemetery Transcription, Death Certificate, Funeral Home Record, Obituary
Marriage Marriage License, Family Bible Entry Cemetery Transcription, Funeral Home Record, Obituary
Death Death Certificate, Family Bible Entry Cemetery Transcription, Death Certificate, Funeral Home Record, Social Security Record, Insurance Record, Obituary
Many times, especially for pioneers, primary records simply do not exist. In many cases the head stones at the cemetery provide the only source for your research.

Finding Records

There are many sources online as well as digital records on CD. You can try our free Free genealogy search tool to help with finding information on the web.

Many local libraries, the Morman Church Family History Centers, and genealogy societies also have these records available.



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