Reliable Sources for Pre-1700 Quaker profiles

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Surnames/tags: quakers pre-1700 sources
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Reliable Sources

Also see the Quakers Project Resources Page

Reliable with conditions - Secondary Sources - Use with Caution

How can sources which don't meet the conditions be used?
  • Add Research Notes on existing profiles to record information about people who fall under the stricter guidelines. Those research notes will provide clues for finding additional records.


  • Find A Grave, Billiongraves and other cemetery sites would be deemed reliable only when a picture of the headstone is provided. Remember that even grave markers can have errors in name spelling and dates. Early Friends did not usually mark their graves with engraved stones. Most engraved stones have been placed many years later in memory of the ancestors. They can be used for clues but there are usually other good sources available.
  • Wikipedia articles can also be problematic. Genealogical information in an otherwise well-researched article may not be supported by a source at all or the source may be one that WikiTree would consider unreliable. When citing Wikipedia as a source for parent/child relationship(s), birth, marriage, and/or death information, please include not only a link to the Wikipedia article and date accessed but also the source(s) cited by Wikipedia for genealogical facts from the article.


  • Indexed Abstracts: Many websites provide searchable indexes to record abstracts. Neither the abstract nor the index record is a source, both are clues. Hinshaw's Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy at Ancestry.com and Thomas Hamm's Abstracts of the records of the Society of Friends in Indiana at HathiTrust.org are examples. Enough information should be included in the abstracts to allow you to find the original record if they still exist. For instance, some of Ancestry's "U.S., Quaker Meeting Records, 1681-1935" database includes images of Monthly Meeting records. Verify the abstracted records and cite the originals. The citation for the index and/or abstract can be placed in a See Also or Research Notes section.

Family Genealogies

  • There are numerous published books -- dating from the early 1800s through the day before yesterday -- that present the genealogy of a particular family. Other family genealogies may be published on websites maintained by a family organization (possibly with a name like "The So-and-So Family Association, Inc.") or distributed privately to the members of a family organization. Often these sources are the best (or only) information we have to work with regarding an individual or a family group. Unfortunately, however, family genealogies range in quality from superb to horrifyingly bad. Some are even fraudulent. In evaluating the reliability of a particular genealogy, we should consider whether the author cited their sources, and consider whether those cited sources are reliable. In reviewing citations, consider the age of the work. A book published recently should be considered doubtful if it lacks good standard reference citations. However, because 19th-century authors typically did not use modern-style citations, we need instead to look for informal descriptions of where their information came from. Regardless of the citation formats, spot-check their information against those sources you are able to access, to see whether the primary sources validate the information found in the family genealogy. Check the credentials and reputation(s) of the author(s). Consider where and how the work was published. Do not treat the "official" work of a family association as having any special credibility or legal authority over a family's history -- their publications should be evaluated the same way that we would evaluate another author's work. Finally, don't hesitate to ask other WikiTreers (in G2G) for advice regarding the reliability of a particular work.

Unreliable Sources

  • Online trees: Online trees are usually user-contributed trees, many of them unsourced. A tree with precise dates and places will usually be a good guide of where to look for primary records. Do not use online trees as source; find the sources that they reference. Examples include trees found at Geneanet, FamilySearch, Ancestry, Geni, MyHeritage, Rootsweb, WikiTree, the Peerage, Stirnet, family association websites, etc.
  • Published books, articles and blogs that do not have sources listed.
  • See also Category:Frauds_and_Fabrications


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