Can A Genealogist Accept As Face Value Copies Of Original Records?

Can a digitized or microfilmed copy of an original record be accepted as same as the original record?  Some may say “yes” and others may say “no.”

Locating original records is the aim in researching family ancestors, and certainly digitizing or microfilming the original records can make them available to a lot more people through the internet.

However, eliminating context, may affect the correctness of the information that the original images contain.

Genealogists need to be careful of possible errors and omissions in record images, and should analyze their format and source before accepting it as face value.  Further, it is very important to locate more than one source of information.  An excellent genealogist always secures at least two if not three sources on a particular fact.  Records are not always what they appear.  It is worth the effort and time to dig deeper to either confirm or disapprove the item.

Take the time to research the place and time.  Study the records in historical context. This procedure often uncovers information that helps in understanding the records even if those sources do not include a family’s name.

By Wes Quandt, Cedar Hill Genealogical Society

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