Have you maximized your understanding of the most common sources in genealogy?

Your ability to solve problems in your research will grow as you learn to scour each source for every clue it imparts.

This image is from one of my lectures. There are twenty-two pieces of genealogical information on this death certificate.

Would you have noticed them all (click to enlarge)?

If you would have missed some of these, there are many ways to grow in your research skills. I have found that when I solve problems today, it’s often because I can see things in the sources I couldn’t see before.

I have learned primarily by reading journal articles, and attending conferences and lectures over the years. This, in addition to reading and referring to core genealogy books.

Sometimes even the tiniest clue can be the key to breaking a brick wall.

Sources to Learn How to Evaluate Vital Records

I have three suggestions for learning how to evaluate vital records such as a death certificate. All three of the books should be on the bookshelf of all genealogists. They are expensive (you can find used books for slightly cheaper) but they are an investment that will pay off over and over again.

  1. The Source, 3rd edition, edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, Chapter 13, “Vital Records.”
  2. Researchers Guide to American Genealogy, 4th edition, by Val D. Greenwood, Chapter 13, “Vital Records.” (**If you can only purchase one, let it be this one**)
  3. Evidence Explained, 3rd edition, Chapter 9, “Local and State Records: Licenses, Registrations, Rolls and Vital Records.”

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