Table of Contents


Primary Information

Secondary Information

Original Sources

Derivative Sources
Births page from the Rowland Crocker Family Bible. Click for a larger image.

Digital scan of the Births page from the Rowland Crocker Family Bible. This Bible is currently in the genealogical papers of Marcie Crocker.

About the Sources

Not all sources are created equal. Good genealogical sources provide information about where they came from. Unfortunately, there are many "sources" that provide no clue as to where their information was gleaned. This website tries to include only those sites that are worthy of research. This site is not all inclusive, but it will grow over time.

Primary Information

Primary sources contain information provided by someone with first-hand knowledge of an event, whether as a participant or a witness. These types of sources include birth, death and marriage certificates, census records, newspapers, land records, family bibles, diaries and letters, to name a few. These are the sources we want to find. Most of these sources are not online, but there is information, some online and some not, that can help us find these sources.

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Secondary Information

Secondary sources contain information provided by someone who wasn't present. In other words, it's second-hand knowledge. As an example you couldn't give primary information about your parents' wedding because it was probably before you were born. You are relying on information that someone else told you. Most genealogies and family histories contain secondary information, which is OK, but where did the authors get their information? Secondary sources are only as good as the sources used to create them.

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Original Sources

An original source is the first or earliest recording of any information in a physical form. Original source records can take any physical form, such as a document, an audiotape, a photograph, or even in this modern age, a website. Examples of original sources include church baptismal records, marriage records at the county courthouse, and oral history audiotapes. It should be noted, that while most original sources include primary information, there are exceptions.

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Derivative Sources

A derivative source is any source that is not an original one. It has been derived from the original source. These include any information that has been copied, compiled, abstracted, and transcribed from other sources. These sources can serve in place of an original record if you are reasonably sure that it truly reflects the original. Faxes, photocopies, and scanned images are good examples that can be used in such a way. In the case of abstracts, compilations, and transcriptions, while they tend to be reasonably accurate, it is always a good idea to get confirmation against the original document, if it is available, as mistakes sometimes happen.

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