Monday, August 5, 2019

Methodology Monday~Analysis and Correlation

Element 3 in the Genealogical Proof Standard is Analysis and Correction.
What does that mean and how do you go about doing it?

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Looking at your records to see :

Why it was created?

   What is the purpose of the record? To record birth, death, marriage, etc.?
When was it made? 
   At the time of the event of many years after?
Who crafted the document?  
    A government official, personal record, etc.
What condition is it in?
    Is it an original or transcription or a compilation of someone else's work?
    Is it clear and legible or in bad shape, torn and hard to read?
Where is it now, and where was it in the past?
   Is it still in the original office or owner or has it been passed down through many hands leaving it vulnerable to changes?
  Can you trust the information?
   Would there have been a reason to give false data such as a bride wanting to appear old enough to marry or a baby born longer than 9 months after a wedding, etc.?

What type of information does the record provide?
Your documents are either:
Primary-information coming from someone who witnessed the event
Secondary-information coming from someone who was told about the event
Indeterminable-supplier of information not known.

Each of these questions will help you to analyze the data recorded in the documents you find. The answers will help you to know if the information included is trustworthy.

Once you have analyzed each record for clues to your genealogy question, the next step is to correlate what you have found.

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Seeing What They Are Saying

Correlation means to look at all your pieces of information.

Do they agree with each other or do you have data that doesn't match- such as different parents,  conflicting dates, etc?
Timelines, charts, and spreadsheets are great ways to look at the data you have extracted from your records and see what you have.
Do you have documents whose informer was the same person? An example is a death certificate, obituary, and headstone. These need to be placed together as one source due to the fact the same person was asked to provide the information Whether right or wrong.
If you find conflicting information you must stop and try to resolve what you have found.
How? By looking at your analysis of each record and trying to determine which is the most correct.
You may need to do more research.

My post: Resolving Conflicts, another in the Methodology Monday series may help you with questions on how to get past the conflicts and determine the most correct piece of information if possible.

By analyzing the records you find and correlating the data contained in them, you will be on the path to finding the best answers to your genealogy questions.

How has using analysis and correlation helped you in your research?

Thanks so much for stopping by!
Helping you climb your family tree,


  1. Great list and points, Cheri! I am going to share this with folks I work with who are working toward certification.

  2. Thank you for your great post Cheri! I have created timelines in my research, but not spreadsheets. I can see how spreadsheets could be very helpful since they can be sorted by column. For instance, in your example of documents in which the informer was the same person.

  3. This is a great post, Cheri, and very important for all genealogists, new and old. I think conflicting evidence is often something we ignore -- out of ignorance or because we want to believe a certain narrative -- but it is an integral part of the GPS and forms good research. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Sarah, thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post!

  4. Excellent post! Making sense of conflicting evidence is a key to successful research. In some cases, taking systematic steps to resolve the conflict can lead to unexpected breakthroughs — well worth the effort!

    1. Thanks so much, Molly. It is so important to really look at what we have collected! We may have had the answer all along and never even realize it until we do!