Saturday, January 18, 2014

Documenting conflicts and suppositions

The notes section of your genealogy program is very important.  This is where you can document all those little conflicts in the evidence and also the reasons why you accept one piece of evidence over another.  Sometimes a simple one liner is all you need to clarify something.  It is important that you take the time to write this stuff down.  Even if it isn’t some earth shattering, full blown case study you still need to document why you think the way you do.  Here are a couple of very simple examples copied and pasted straight from my notes.

Here is a date conflict:

Mary's grave marker has a birth date of 02 Nov 1867.  It is unknown who the informant was or when the marker was actually erected.  Her death certificate gives a birth date of 13 Nov 1867.  The informant on her death certificate was her brother Ode.  This date is used until any further information is uncovered.


Here is the explanation of why I added a residence event to Christopher Columbus Morris. I wanted to add this to make his timeline more complete.  This blurb is in the event notes.

Wife Arabella's death certificate states that she was living in Martinez at the time of her death.  She is listed as being married (not widowed or divorced). There is no reason to believe that she and Columbus were not living together.


Here is an explanation of why I added two unknown children.

On the 1900 census mother Corrine stated she had bore 7 children and 6 were living.  Known son Albert died in 1893 so all 7 are accounted for.  On the 1910 census Corrine stated she had bore 10 children and 7 were living.  There are now two 2 children unaccounted for who were born and also died between the two censuses.


It is important to add these little tidbits at the same time you are extracting information from new documents. Don’t make the mistake of extracting the info just to fill in the blanks in your genealogy program with the intention of going back and adding the details later.  You will never remember this stuff.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. That is so true .It's a habit that pays off .........all it takes is to open up the notebook and just write one sentence......I love how you say that it does not have to be " earth shattering"

  2. Amen.... Sometimes that little conflict or detail is *huge* later on, with more info or another source's data. And you're right! You will forget. At best, might be a little niggle that you've seen something somewhere that applies, but you won't have any idea what, or where to look. Even in your own files and docs. [Been there....]