Today, Diana and I are talking about analyzing your sources – the next thing to do in your research project after creating an objective. In order to establish what you know and determine how reliable it is, you must analyze the source, information, and evidence on a record.
Start by gathering up all the sources that you’ve already found. Talk to close relatives who have knowledge or information about the project. Check online family trees including Ancestry, RootsWeb, FamilySearch Family Tree Genealogies, etc.
Diana tells about how it’s easy to make a timeline in google sheets or excel with the events of your relative’s life. As you add dates and places, you may notice things that don’t add up. This will help you analyze the information you have, find inconsistencies, and ask questions to guide your research plan.
As you record all the events in the timeline, you might have questions and ideas. It might be tempting to go search for an answer online right away. We discuss how to stay focused and not get distracted with searching the web as soon as you have a thought about something else. Start a bulleted list of questions in your Research Project Document (found in our book, Research Like a Pro), or Nicole’s blog post, “Doing a Genealogy Research Project from Start to Finish.” Another place to record thoughts and comments while creating your timeline is to add column for comments.
Diana tells about how sometimes she makes a timeline, and sometimes a chronology. When she dives deeper into the analysis of the evidence of each source, she uses a chronology in a document instead of a spreadsheet.
We go over the three aspects of analysis – source, information, and evidence. Source analysis includes determining whether it is original, derivative, or authored. Information can be primary, secondary, or undetermined. Evidence can be direct, indirect, or negative. We discuss examples of these and why it’s important to analyze what you already know within this framework of evidence analysis.
Purchase our book Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide on Amazon
Research Like a Pro Part 2, Analyze Your Sources blog post by Diana
Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson (This is an affiliate link – if you purchase through this link, we receive a commission. Thanks!)
The FamilySearch Catalog: A Researcher’s Best Friend – Diana’s blog post about the FamilySearch Catalog
Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills (This is an affiliate link – if you purchase through this link, we receive a commission.) On page 37, ESM discusses a record’s timeliness – even though a source may be original, it may have been created months or years after the event it records.
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