What is the real definition of original source? Four authoritative references, four answers. Depending on which reference consulted, you will get a different answer as to what criteria is used to determine if a source is original.
Earlier today I posted the following to the APG list on RootsWeb:
There exists confusion in the current genealogy literature on the definition of an original source.
For this discussion I would like to focus only on the definition of original source and not derivatives, common derivatives (transcript, extract, abstract), or derivatives that can be treated as originals (image copy, record copy, or duplicate originals). I want to focus on the source – the container, the person, the paper, the stone, the object. Not the information contained in it (as much as possible) and its classification as primary or secondary. Also I don’t want to focus on how that information relates to the research question (i.e. the evidence and whether it is direct, indirect, or negative).
The 4 main sources that genealogists can turn to for a definition of original source are: Evidence! (1997), The BCG Standards Manual (2000), Professional Genealogy (2001), and Evidence Explained (2007). But using these sources can be contradictory and confusing. Is this due to the refinement of the definition over the years?
Let’s look at some specifics.
As part of revising my presentation, Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard, I decided to create a timeline of some key milestones in the development of current evidence and citation standards.
Due to many commitments which includes preparing for the St. George Family History Expo and limited time, the ThinkGenealogy Rebus puzzle will take a break in February with plans to resume in March.
Thank you to all who play along.
The ProGen Study group assignment for December 2008 was to simply read two chapters and then later talk about them with your group. There was no practical assignment this month.
The chapters that we studied in Professional Genealogy were:
- Chapter 19 - Genealogy Columns by Regina Hines Ellison, CGRS
- Chapter 21 – Book and Media Reviews by Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The ProGen Study Group assignment for November 2008 was about research.
Our reading assignment from Professional Genealogy was:
- Chapter 15 - Research Procedures by Linda Woodward Geiger, CGRS, CGL
As professional genealogists we often specialize in a location, type of record, topic, or ethnic group. We need to be knowledgeable and prepared before research begins and effective while researching.
This paragraph does a great job summarizing the chapter contents:
“Regardless of our specialty, effective research on any specific project comes from long-range preparation, followed by a literature survey and an actual on-site search. This chapter provides strategies for identifying available resources, determining their locations, using electronic finding aids, and otherwise preparing ourselves before we arrive on site. Finally, it offers suggestions for the research itself – both good work habits and goodwill builders.”
This chapter is also a helpful reminder to personal genealogists that preparation before research is important.
Oh how the months go by. Back in October 2008, we completed ProGen Study group assignment #7 and I am just getting around to blogging about it.
The original plan was to cover Chapters 14 and 15 of ProGen, but that proved to be too big of an assignment, so we tackled only one chapter.
You can find this in Professional Genealogy in:
- Chapter 14 - Problem Analysis and Research Plans by Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG
The chapter discusses two different types of analysis: preliminary and detailed.