Remember when we were in school. Each grading period had 6 weeks. That last week before report cards came out was the one most of us got serious about school. Up until then, we were just sitting in seats, pretending to care, now suddenly, we were about to have to deal with the wrath of a mother who was going to have to borrow a car to go to a parent-teacher conference because we were not “performing to our abilities.” Nothing made my mother madder than to find out that in teacher speak I was goofing off in mother speak.
So here we are at week 6, and it’s time to take stock. How have we been performing so far? For me, I have made great progress. I have been moving documents into Evernote, cleaning up source citations, and checking off to do lists. And job hunting…. Plus trying to do a good job at my current job, since it is one of the busiest months I have.
Step 1: Evaluating Evidence
I haven’t ever seen the point of worrying about whether a source is primary, secondary, derivative, etc. To me, it’s a source. Good for some information, not good for other. While a source might be primary for a birth, it would be secondary for the father’s occupation. I will cite it and make clarifications in my notes. If the death certificate gives the grandfather as the father, that doesn’t mean the other information is incorrect. It means the child’s aunt giving the information was distraught and instead of giving her brother’s name, she gave her father’s name instead. I make a note of the mistake and the possible reason why she made the mistake. Other sources will either collaborate what she said, or disprove it. In the note section of my citation, I might record “Aunt Becky was 49 and most likely going through menopause. She was known by the family to be quite forgetful, having left cousin Johnny at church more than once. When asked for the child’s father, she must have misunderstood, and given her father’s name instead. Knowing how close she was to her sister-in-law in later years, seeing her lose a young baby must have been terribly upsetting to her. It is no wonder she made this mistake. “
So this week, I plan on continuing with making sure the sources I have are well cited and that I make good notes when I find a discrepancy between one document and another. And I will learn that my ancestors made mistakes. Wonder if my 5th grade teacher ever took that into account when she was deciding I was just lazy?
Step 2: Reviewing Online Education Resources
Oh my gosh, a genealogist could make a career out of this. 🙂 There is so much good stuff online to watch to help a genealogist cite sources better, know more about a historical event, use software better.
My goal is to make good use out of these resources. On a “as have time basis”. Since most are posted on Facebook and Twitter, I admit for now, I plan to follow the seat of my pants on this.