Saturday, June 23, 2018
Education

Here are important concepts that should guide any genealogical search

The Internet is a candy land for genealogists but it can turn the family history into a sticky mess if researchers are careless and too trusting.

It's tempting to go on a genealogy site such as Ancestry.com and adopt as your own one of the posted family trees submitted with names identical or similar to yours.

The result usually becomes a tangled mess of individuals listed as ancestors simply because they bore the same name. The bottom line is that researching your family history and producing an accurate genealogy probably will take years and may even be a lifelong pursuit. You simply cannot produce an accurate family history over the weekend or in a few days.

So get off on the right foot by learning some basic and very important concepts on which you can slowly build an accurate history.

Four terms are critical to this work: sources, information, evidence, and proof.

Sources

You will use a variety of sources in your research. They come in many forms including books, digital files and people. These sources can be original or derivative. An original is one in its first form. For example, a will signed by the testator is an original source. If someone copied the will by hand or abstracted pieces of the will, those would be derivatives.

We can treat a digitized copy of an original as being an original, although technically it is a derivative, unless we have reason to suspect it has been altered in some way.

Information

We get information from our sources. It can be primary (provided by a source with firsthand knowledge of something) or secondary (details from a source with more distant knowledge). For example, the date of death on an official death certificate would be primary information. Many death certificates also show the mother's maiden name. This is something a family or friend might relay to the clerk from an unknown family member or from what he believes to be the correct name.

Evidence

Evidence simply is information that relates in some way to the research you are doing. It can be direct or indirect.

Direct evidence stands alone and seems to answer the research question. For example, a widow might state on an application for her husband's military pension that she married him on July 3, 1855, in Johnston County, North Carolina. That is direct evidence of her date of marriage. An important point here is to realize that just because something is direct does not make it correct. The widow probably was elderly and even likely illiterate. A researcher should be cautious of her memory.

Indirect evidence is that which must be combined with other evidence to answer a question. For example perhaps the question is "Who was Mary Everett's father?" You have a letter written by John Byrnes in which he said his sister Mary was about to marry George Everett. In your research you also find the will of a Martin Byrnes in which he made a bequest to his son John Byrnes and another to his granddaughter Elizabeth Everett. Census research shows an Elizabeth Everett in the household of her likely parents Mary and George Everett. When you piece these bits together, it appears from the indirect evidence that Mary Everett's father was Martin Byrnes.

Evidence also can be negative. This means you didn't find something where you would have expected to find it. Suppose you believe that Martha Johnson was the daughter of Thomas Warren but she is not listed among his children in his will. You know that Martha was still alive when the will was probated, so you would have expected to find her in his will. Your research now might turn to looking for a reason that she wasn't in the will. It is important to document negative evidence just as you would any other relevant information.

Proof

This is the point at which we all want to arrive with our genealogy questions. It is a conclusion reached from in-depth research that has been analyzed, evaluated, interpreted and correlated. Your reports should present all your evidence and research to convince your readers or family members. But good researchers keep their minds open and their eyes focused on finding new evidence that could discredit earlier "proven facts."

Send your genealogical methodology questions and event announcements to Sharon Tate Moody at [email protected]

Comments
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18
AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

AP World History course is dropping thousands of years of human events - and critics are furious

Since 2002, the AP World History course has covered thousands of years of human activity around the planet, starting 10,000 years back. But now the College Board, which owns the Advanced Placement program, wants to cut out most of that history and st...
Published: 06/16/18