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Primary & Secondary Sources

Research records are referred to as either "primary" (usually original documents) or "secondary" (those that are compiled or published based on original documents). Published family histories are considered clues for further research. Dates and places can be good indicators of locations to search for additional supporting information. Citing and documenting your research sources is very important and saves a lot of time later on. Sometimes you can get so wrapped up in the information you discover that you may forget to note the source. If the source has not been cited, you may end up checking the same source again at a later time. It also helps those researchers who follow you. Most importantly, documenting your sources supports the information and provides credibility.

The USGenWeb Project is attempting to archive as many Primary and Secondary records as we possibly can. There are other online sources for these records. Make sure you check out links area and you just might find exactly what you need!

The Morman Church's Family History Centers are a great source of Primary Resources and there is most likely one near you. If they don't have the records you need, they will order them for you from Salt Lake City for a nominal charge.

With the rising popularity of Genealogy, many libraries are setting aside special sections just for this purpose. Make sure you check with your local library to see if they have a genealogy section.

"Primary" sources: Those that recount an event at or close to the time it happened; original records of events and may include: diaries, journals, state or federal census records, courthouse records such as deeds, will probates, birth or death records, baptism or marriage records. Also included as primary sources would be ship's passenger lists and military records.

"Secondary sources: Published records, including: family histories, indexes or compilations of census or marriage records, any sort of history (county, state, etc.), and collections of cemetery inscriptions, for instance.

Primary records are, of course, the most reliable sources, but secondary records can provide you with many clues for further research.


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