Looking for ways to improve your research skills and quality?
Start by learning what the word "source" really means. It doesn't mean saying that you got it from someone else's family file or from One World Tree.
Merriam-Webster Dictions defines "source" as "a firsthand document or primary reference work." It means that you are backing up your "fact" with a piece of evidence that is not just heresay. And if you don't have that evidence, all you do have IS just heresay. You want to prove that this family is yours - After all, you don't want to claim someone's else's family by mistake.
Example: Someone tells you that your great-grandmother was born in 1861 in Tennessee. The question is, where did that information come from?
The 1870 Grainger Co. TN Census, you say. Good, that is a valid piece of evidence from the time (although someone other than your g-grandmother may have given her age). Your cousin in Texas who is the same age you are? Saying you got it from her is not a source because she wasn't there. You need to look for proof or evidence that back up that date: Bible records, census records, pension records, death certificates, birth certificates. You get the idea.
Then concentrate on "sourcing" the genealogy material you already have. Go through everything in your file and see where you do and don't have proof. Make a list; write down the questions where you have no sources. Then you know where to do research.
Sure, you can look at other's people family files, gedcoms, and web pages. But make sure that before you take one of their supposed facts, you find the materials that verify it.
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