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Once we verify the type of source we are looking at we need to evaluate the information found in that source. Then, after all of the information, we have obtained from our sources has been evaluated and analyzed, it becomes evidence to help answer a research question.

According to the Evidence Analysis Process Map, information is based on the informant’s knowledge of the event and whether that knowledge is primary, secondary, or undetermined.

Used with permission. Angela Rodesky.

Primary information is that which is provided by someone who participated or witnessed the event. For example, the marriage date on a marriage return completed by the officiant would be considered primary information, as the officiant was present and performed the ceremony.


Secondary information is that which is learned in a manner other than being a participant or witness to the event. For example, if a wife provides her husband’s birth information on his death certificate it is considered secondary information since she was not present at her husband’s birth.

Used with permission. Angela Rodesky.

Undetermined is when the informant is not identified. A common example is the information supplied for household members on the US Federal Census prior to 1940.

Evaluating and analyzing genealogical documents is a challenging task. But when we take the time to properly do it, we are able to correlate all of the information and use it as evidence. Our Skill-Building: Breaking Down Brick Walls course will give you the tools needed to accomplish this and more. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies

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