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  • Introduction to Genealogy

  • What Is Open Source Genealogy

  • The Importance of Open Source Genealogy

  • Family Tree Organizing Tips

  • 12 Essential Genealogy Supplies

  • Genealogy Beginner Mistakes to Avoid

  • How Far Back Can I Trace My Genealogy?

  • Using Cemetery Records in Genealogy Research

  • Genealogy Research Through Living Family Members

  • Tips for Managing Your Genealogy Archive

  • Resolving Conflicting Genealogy Records

  • DNA Testing and Genealogy Research
  • Resolving Conflicting Genealogy Records

    When conducting genealogy research you will often run into conflicting data.  Three birth dates for a person who lived 150 years ago is not uncommon.  The obvious way to determine which is correct is by finding one or two other sources that give you a birth date or death date, but even this can occasionally lead to more confusion.

    Approach your research scientifically.  If you have conflicting documents which one offers direct information and which one offers indirect information?  For example, a birth certificate is usually direct information.  It can be certain proof of the date of birth.  A family Bible that gives a date of birth but later conflicts with a death certificate that says, “died at age….” could conflict.  The death certificate in this case is indirect evidence.  It doesn’t actually give a birth date.  Old tombstones are an indirect source, as the dates on old stones were often erroneous.  When a son was trying to recall the year of his aged mother’s birth in an effort to have the stone created he may have been off by several years. 

    Finally, is the source a direct copy of a record or did it come from a log book, such as the baptismal records from a church?  When hand entering information in a log mistakes could have been made in a rush to enter the information.  Several might have been entered at once and transposed. 

    You will run into conflicting data.  Which source is most likely to be correct?  Which source can be substantiated?  What offers direct or indirect evidence?  Go with what makes the most sense until you uncover something better.

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