QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 2: Sources vs. Information vs. Evidence vs. Proof,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage(https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-2-sources-vs-information-vs-evidence-vs-proof : accessed 20 Mar 2015)
Have spent the past day or two, spending time NOT researching but really looking at my Citations in my Genealogy Database. This QuickLessoin is very timely for this review.
For a very long time, I learned that I really, really, don’t like the term “Source Citation”. My software uses that term on some of the labels on the screen. I can NOT use those words together. In my mind, I can’t have a Citation, without a Source, but I can of a Source without a Citation.
To me, a source without a Citation is like a couple of the books in my Genealogy Library that I haven’t look at yet.
A Citation without a Source, is that loose piece of paper in a research paper in a folder without a label. Where on earth did I get that one from.
The two terms work TOGETHER, but they are two separate items. I have a Source with Many citations. A Book (source), with many pages where I took information from are reflected in the Citation.
This lesson, for me, starts with the Source. It has in it, INFORMATION that I might want to use in my research. I have learned, that IF there is a possibility that the Information is about my research Question, I am going to start to Craft a Citation. Why do that up front, you might ask, for me is slows me down to really make me LOOK at the information that I might use.
Starting the citation process early, for me, puts me into an evaluation mode, not gathering up the pieces and getting them into my database. My first part of the evaluation is to determine what the Source is, or the Container is. A Source being a Book, it different from a Source that is an Official Document. By putting the Source into the Primary Source of a Secondary Source category, will help me down the road, especially if I run into conflicting or information items.
There is Information in the Source that I might use, but how did that information get into that Source and who provided that information.
In my evaluation of a Marriage Record, that I have in my hands, I might consider it a Primary Source. The information says that the parents of one of the individuals was born on a specific date and place. The document was signed by the party whose parent has been recorded, so that specific piece of information is NOR Primary Information, but Secondary, as the person was not there with his or her parents were born.
At this point, using this example, I have to cycle back to what was my question that made me look at the Record (Source). If my question was about a couple’s marriage, that Birth Information would be just that Information. Now, I am going to record it, but it does NOT prove when and where that parent was born.
Then I need to understand where in the marriage paperwork process that Marriage Record is. Was it a license to get married or an official return from the appropriate authority that signed the document that I am looking at. The license would be evidence that the person was going to get married, but the officially signed an returned might be proof that the person / couple did get married.
But, I know that I can’t stop there, with one piece of information, which may be proof, but I know I need other documents, difference sources to really prove the answer to my question.
If I am trying to prove that tis couple actually did get married, I would see if I could find a record for the person to preformed the marriage. In the state of New Jersey, several groups of people have the authority do perform a marriage. Being part of their normal business, the will probably had to have some record that they officiated at that marriage. A Marriage book in a Church, if it was a Church wedding, is where I would look. In the Church records that I have seen in my research, a copy of that document that I first had in my hands would be stapled on the page that was filled out, at the time of the wedding, signed by the persons present at the wedding.
Bottom line, for me in this lesson is that I would need at least two sources, containing information, that are helping be develop the evidence that proves that the person really did get married.
The Citations (more than one) for a simple Marriage Fact or Event would have to be clear enough to let someone else reading or using my information could find the same information that I used.
The Citations would be to lead the reader back to the Sources but not to tell the story about that Sources and where in the sources might I find that information.
This image is with the Marriage Record I have on file.
This is to Marriage Applicants with information about what the person needs to do. In this case, the parish priest needs a Marriage License for the marriage, and in the State of New Jersey, they are acting on behalf of the state, so they have the authority.
At the time of the marriage, copies of this multiple copy license is stapled into the Church Records, as as the instructions say, a Pink Copy will be returned to those being married.
This is just a part of the pick piece of paper. Interesting that this License has the date and time of the application, the date and time of the license being issued, and a time when it would expire. The instructions clearly say “The copy is NOT a Certified Copy, but merely a copy for your records. If the instructions were followed, this would have been provided Post Marriage.
The top part of THE Certified copy of the marriage certificate.
Just below the above part of the one page is this. The Certificate of Marriage.
and below that the Marriage License
Did the marriage happen? Yes, but what isn’t in these images is the signature line just above the Marriage License section of this one page document. It has a Date and Signature of the “state” official. In this case a township
The Pick Copy, received at the ceremony did NOT have that signature but Certificated copy did.
This example is a 21st century document, that would probably equal to a number of documents for our ancestors.
The other copy of this multiple page form, is stapled and signed by all parties in the parish register. (sorry, no scan for that one)
There is no information on this form that would not have been secondary information.