Are family bibles, letters written/received, etc considered a source for dates/persons/places

+10 votes
I am brand new at this and need quidance.  First I have found my great grandfather' name on a profile with an "abt" 1835 date.  However, my ancestor's tombstone has 1853 date.  I know his sisters name, his wife's, their six siblings and of course grandfather/mother .  Should I add to the current Nathaniel M Levins or start a new profile for Nathaniel M./Flora (Bunn) Levins.. Thank you
in The Tree House by Sam Varnell G2G Crew (460 points)

5 Answers

+6 votes
Best answer

We avoid creating duplicates - if you are confident the existing profile is for the same person then any new info should be added to the existing profile - if you are not sure the profile is for the same person drop the profile manager a message and compare notes. Even if you are confident the record is for the same person major changes should be discussed with the profile manager (if there is one) before they are made.

A source is just where a particular piece of information came from - so all the examples you gave can certainly be sources, and so can Uncle Bloggins rambling during a holiday meal after having one too many....what I think you want to know is: are they reliable sources? They certainly can be, but it is painting with too broad a brush to say a particular type of source is reliable - you have to consider each specific source on it's own merits. For example, do the entries in a family bible look like someone sat down and wrote them in one sitting, or do they look like they have been added one at a time as the events occurred? Do they appear to have been amended at a later time? A person I was recently discussing genealogy with had two aunts who continuously battled over who was younger - they had apparently amended their birth dates in the family bible so many times they had worn holes in the pages.

In determining reliability another question to ask is whether the author was likely a witness to the event in question or are they passing on second-hand information? The child's game 'telephone' illustrates how quickly facts can be skewed as they pass from person to person. Also consider if there is a reason the person would have 'fudged' the details about an event, for example to hide a birth out of wedlock.

by Rob Ton G2G6 Pilot (274k points)
selected by Anonymous Barnett
According to you, family bibles can be sources. So why is the profile of my granddad marked as unsourced when I gave as source for his birth and especially for his death in Russia during WW2 the family bible of which I have a complete scan? This is contradictional to say the least.

Edit: I just saw that some of the profiles of my ancestors which only cited the family bible as source were considered "unsourced" and some not. THAT is even more contradictional. Either the team that is checking profiles has an unanimous policy or I struggle to take them serious. But the way it is, it is not ok.
+10 votes
Primary sources created at the time of the event are perfect. A tombstone is likely to be accurate for a death, and while it may have a correct birth date, people of that time weren't always sure when they were born. The idea of wikitree is that you add and improve data by adding sources on the same profile so there is only one per person. If you create a new profile, it will just have to be merged. You can attach other family members to the existing profile too.
by Fiona McMichael G2G6 Pilot (158k points)
+7 votes
If you do have any of the items in your question's title you can use them as sources, though you would probably want to scan the document in and upload it so others can verify the data.  Any source can be wrong at times so it's good to have more than one source.  In the case of the tombstone you mention, it's possible that stone cutter mistakenly wrote 1835 as 1853 but if you found the person in the 1850 census as 15 years old you have a good case for the earlier date being correct.  assuming the 1853 was a death date rather than the birth date.
by Dave Dardinger G2G6 Pilot (407k points)
+6 votes
Hi Sam, welcome.  I think most researchers would agree that letters and family bibles are acceptable sources.  (Those who don't will surely let us know!)  If you can find actual records that agree with the data in them, even better.  If you find contradictory or inconsistent data somewhere, that should be stated and explained in the biography.

In my experience with a family bible, the dates are accurate, but you can't take it as an authoritative source for the spelling of names.  And if it doesn't violate anyone's privacy, you should include info in the source citation about who is in possession of the bible or letters and whether you have actually seen the material or are relying on someone else's report.  Just my $0.02 worth on the subject.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (394k points)
0 votes
Afamily Bible, if you have it or scaned pages from it, WITH the Title Page that shows the publication page (date and placde of publication) IS a valid source of genealogical information.  Letters contemporary to the time are good sources also.

Fuller Jones CG*

*CG and Certified Genealogist are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
by Fuller Jones G2G Rookie (290 points)

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