NEGenWeb Project

NEGenWeb Project Resource Center


Modified with the permission of Mr. Oliver,
from his Crenshaw family website


Source Standards for Family Research and Sharing Data

by Wm. Oliver

There is an inherent excitement in finding a name we are seeking. However, how many of those "hits" have documentation sited? I'd wager that it is zero or very, very close to it. We "save" it and maybe even put it into our databases. Doing that makes us collectors rather than researchers.

We find these hits in e-mail and on the ever popular CDs, such as WFT [World Family Tree] or other online databases. We collect them with fervor. The epidemic is so wide spread that there are very few researchers who can tell you where their data originated or its accuracy. Therefore, as stated above, the vast majority of folk on line are collectors and not researchers.

Unfortunately, yours truly is not innocent. I have been a "collector" for thirty eight years. I began that way, collecting without regard for where I got the data. Since my family pages will contain birth, marriage, death records, as well as, obituaries, deeds, court minutes, wills, or any other record available, I'll attempt to include all documentation. Since it will be impossible not to include some information based on speculation and circumstantial evidence, I'll try to illustrate how those conclusions were reached. Full credit will be given to any contributor for their work or submission.

Book references will contain the title, author, and other title page information, including any copyrights.

As a reminder as to what classifications of resource material are, any document containing material about a person who was living at the time of the document/record and was personally involved is considered Primary evidence. This would include such items as Wills, Deeds, Birth Records, Marriage Records, Church Records, Family Bibles, Court Records, and other similar recordings. Any document recorded by a third party, particularly after the decease of the subject, is considered Secondary evidence. Though very often reliable it should not be assumed correct. This type of information would include Death Records or Certificates, newspaper articles, obituaries, biographies found in local history books, and often Census Records. Family Histories and family traditions are examples of what is called Tertiary evidence. Tertiary is Third or other than Primary or Secondary Evidence.

If you should think that some data included on my pages is in error, please tell me! It does no one any good to perpetuate incorrect data. I'm sure that there will be errors, we are human. Be sure to share your evidence. If you do not have proof that I am wrong, but believe I am, let me know anyway. And, in the end, if we both feel we are right, the difference will gladly be commented on.

Also, if you share data for these pages and are not given proper credit, let me know. I will gladly make apologies and corrections.

If you wish to write a biography, commentary or other, please contact me. I'll surely will be happy to include it somewhere. If you have such material on your own personal site and wish it to be linked from these pages, let me know. In that case, we'd like the courtesy returned.

If you have compiled public records about our common ancestors and relatives, let it suffice to say that I'd love to publish them online. Any material that you contribute for publication will be properly credited to you. This includes photographs as well.

When you research - consider all evidence with an open mind and remember that new evidence demands new conclustions.

Record the source for each item of informaion you collect in full.

Where possible use original records.

Acknowledge all use of others' work.

For all work based on less than convincing evidence sentences should contain such words as "probable" and "possible", plus the reasons for the use of such words.

Be sure to obtain written permission to quote copyrighted material beyond the "fair usage" exceptions.

Inform contributors how their information will be used, then respect their wishes if they restrict the use of their contributions.

Respect the legal rights of privacy of others, even though the data is gleened from publicly available sources.

And, certainly be sensitive to the feeling of family members when using criminal, immoral, bizarre, or irresponsible behavior of the subject you are writing about.


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