Guidelines for Recording Genealogy Information
Recording quality genealogy information is not difficult and is expected by most researchers. The following guidelines will help you to produce a reliable family tree and an important secondary record that others can use.
- Be accurate, above all else, take the time and record the event and its sources correctly.
- Document the source for each item of information you collect. Every time you refer to a person by name, event, date, place, etc., always say how or where you found that information. If you do not do this, then your records are no more than a list of names connected together which would not be considered a secondary source.
- Pursue original records, often called primary sources, or a confirmed facsimile image of them, to support for your facts. Always confirm secondary records (secondary sources). They should not be considered as being accurate until you have verified them for yourself.
- Acknowledge all use of the work another researcher. Never claim the research of someone else as your own. Always give credit where it is due. This should be in addition to documenting them as a source.
- Always be prepared to consider new evidence. Be receptive to corrections or the comments of others on your work and your conclusions. We all make the occasional errors and come to the wrong answer. Always thank that person for their contribution and then verify their information as well as checking your original documentation.
- Clearly record assumptions, educated guesses, rumours and family stories as that, do not propose them as a fact. They are still very important in genealogy and should not be forgotten or ignored. Do not accept opinion of another as a fact. A true genealogist should always be guarded and check for themselves.
- Test all your assumptions with convincing evidence and eliminate those assumptions that are not supported by the evidence.
- Handle all documents with care, as even new documents will deteriorate more quickly than they should if abused. Always return them to their correct storage locations.
- Always offer to reimburse others for expenses incurred on your behalf.
Guidelines for Sharing Genealogy Information with Others
- Respect the rights of copyright owners. Gain permission to copy or distribute any part of their work, or to the limited extent specifically allowed under "fair use" exceptions. This includes any rights as authors of and hence senders of letters, electronic mail and data files. Further dissemination or forwarding of them should only with the permission of the author and or sender.
- Respect the privacy of living individuals. Do not reveal personal identifying information about living people; like age, home address, occupation or activities without their permission.
- Always obtain some evidence of consent before assuming that living people have agreed to share information about them.
- Ensure that people who provide information about their families understand how it may be used. Always observe any conditions they impose, and respect any uncertainties that they may have, regarding the use of particular items.
- Recognize that legal privacy rights may limit the extent to which information from openly available sources may be further used. Be aware that privacy issues are different in different locations and parts of the world requiring differing rules and rights for that location.
- Do not publicly publish family secrets. Be sensitive to the hurt that disclosure may bring to family members. Not everyone wants the information of criminal, immoral, bizarre or irresponsible behaviour publicised.
- Be prepared to contribute to, or reimburse expenses, of those sharing information. Some research may have put the original researcher to considerable expense. If they ask for a contribution or donation, consider what it may cost you to duplicate their research.
Some Other Thoughts
Write it Down
- A family member tells you something interesting in a phone call.
- A friend mentions a snippet at a function.
- A family member reminisces while you are visiting.
Do Not Assume - Challenge Everything
- Just because it is printed in a book, it is not necessarily a fact.
- Dates carved on gravestones are often wrong.
- Your surname probably was not spelt the way it is today.
One Original Record is not Proof for Everything
- A Death Certificate is only a secondary record for age, place of birth, etc.
- A Marriage Certificate is only a secondary record for age, father, professions etc.
Want to know more?For similar points and further reading you may wish to refer to these sites:
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