What counts as good genealogical evidence?

I thought it would be a good idea to say what I look at as good genealogical evidence since I’m getting back into this and starting to write it up. I break evidence down into two categories: direct evidence recorded on paper or an appropriate digital analog and anecdotal evidence.

Direct evidence includes any type of paper record, such as census records, titles, deeds, birth certificates, marriage certificates, death certificates, baptismal records, etc. Anecdotal evidence is anything else that isn’t documented. This can be a little tricky because sometimes eye witness accounts are very important. My rule is that eye witness accounts are anecdotal evidence that may or may not be useful in locating direct evidence because if the event was important and real, someone would write it down!

I always make sure that I double check important dates, places and lists of relatives before I declare two people related to each other. Sometimes people may seem like they are related, but no direct evidence can be found linking them to each other. In that case, I try to note the possible relationship without making assumptions.

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Author: Jay Jay Billings

I'm a physicist with a serious addiction to computing. Most days you can find my bumming around ORNL and Twitter.

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