OneGreatFamily Blog

  • How To Evaluate Conflicts At OneGreatFamily

    Information To Read Before You Evaluate Conflicts in Your OneGreatFamily Tree

    "I have three different birth dates for my grandfather. He told me when he was born; I have a delayed birth certificate; and a baptismal record for him. Each has a different birth year-now what?"

    Conflicting sources are a continual problem when doing genealogical research. How do you know which one is accurate? Sometimes an error is so blatant that you can immediately determine which is the more accurate document. But often it is not that cut and dried. When we do find conflicting information, we should evaluate the sources by using a scientific approach.

    Each document should be evaluated on the following criteria:

    1. Is the document an original or a copy?

    An original is the first copy of any document. A photocopy of the original is usually considered an original. Each time a document is hand copied the chance of error is greater. Be especially aware of compiled indexes. Historically these were hand-created, and often error prone.

    2. Is the information primary evidence or secondary evidence?

    Primary evidence is the testimony (oral or written) given by an eyewitness or recorded by mechanical device present at the event. Secondary evidence is information that is either not the result of personal observation or is collected significantly after the fact. A vital record, such as a birth certificate, would usually be considered a primary source. The parent giving you information about their children would usually be a primary source. There are always exceptions that you need to consider. Is the parent elderly and is his/her memory questionable? In this case they might need to be considered a secondary source. Other examples of secondary sources are tombstones and census records.

    3. Does the document contain direct or circumstantial evidence of the information you are seeking?

    Direct evidence is information that directly answers a question. Circumstantial evidence gives a logical inference from which an answer might be derived. For example, if you are looking for the birth date of your ancestor, Ohso Elusive - and you find a church baptismal record that says he was born on January 12, 1876, the document directly answers your question. Ohso was born on Jan. 12, 1876. If, on the other hand, you find a death certificate that says Ohso Elusive died March 15, 1948 at the age of 72, you have a document that gives you direct evidence of his death date but circumstantial evidence of his birth date

    Naturally, the ideal document would be an original record from a primary source with direct evidence, but genealogists usually are not that lucky. After evaluating each of the conflicting documents using the scientific approach, the document that comes closest to the ideal is probably your most accurate. Of course we could still have erroneous information, so if and when you locate additional records, you should always compare it to your current information and evaluate the information once more.

    Using a scientific approach to our research gives us the greatest chance of accuracy, which should be the goal of every genealogist.

    OneGreatFamily makes it easy to find differences between your information and that entered by others. The system marks differences in information as conflicts. You can turn on or off the identification of conflicts in the Genealogy Browser by toggling the appropriate button in the tool bar: The first () shows conflicts in information, like perhaps a difference in a birth place or a death date. The second () shows conflicts in relationships, like perhaps not showing a 2nd wife or listing an additional child. When trying to decide between the alternatives, you can now apply these principles of documentation quality in deciding which you believe to be correct.

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  • Genealogy: Document Your Sources

    The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 

    Do it right the first time! Whether the source is a newspaper, journal, court record, personal interview, letter, or church record, write everything down while you still have the source in your hands. The following are a few of the lessons I've learned about the value of documenting your sources:

    Sources you can rely on. No one has a perfect memory, and some sources will have worse memories than others. The only source you can rely on is an "official" one: birth, marriage, death documents, and other confirmable databases and indi¬ces. Even if information came from a relative, list their name. You want to stay as accurate as possible and leave a clear trail for others to follow. Not only will you know you have proof of your information, but others you share the information with will know it is factual, not just speculation.

    Sources establish credibility. Many genealogists pointed out that unless we are able to tell others where we obtain the information, all we are sharing is our opinion. Citing sources is essential to establishing credibility. If we have done a good job with our research, we can give others the ability to broaden and build upon the research already done and not have the same work rechecked over and over again.

    Write legibly. If you handwrite any information, write leg¬ibly. It doesn't pay to hurry and then not be able to read your own handwriting later. Where possible, I try to always get a photocopy or a photo of the key information I am capturing and then enter it into my genealogical program or record database.

    Checking sources allows for verification. Checking sources allows you to verify of spelling and dating and to report variations, and it also leads to more information. Relying on the expertise of others helps save time and energy. Create and maintain a record of what resource was checked, so that you don't waste time later. Likewise, some sources (books, newspapers, and so on) might be found at only a few locations. Include where these were in case you need to glean them again.

    How valuable is your time? Genealogists told experiences where they tried to pick up the trail of research from undoc¬umented records and spent weeks, months, or even years searching for the next clue, only to find out that the data they had was incorrect.

    Six elements of a good source citation. The six elements of a good source citation include author, title, publisher's name and location, publication date, location of the source and identifying information (library or archive where you found the info and its call number), and specific information for the piece of data you found (page number, line number, and so on).

    Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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  • Famous Ancestor Of The Week : Harry Truman

    Harry Truman

    When Franklin D. Roosevelt died on 12 April 1945, three months into his fourth term, his vice president Harry Truman succeeded him as the 33rd president of the United States. He later won re-election in 1948, defeating Thomas E. Dewey thanks to his Whistle Stop Tour across rural America.

    During his presidency, Truman made many crucial decisions that continue to affect U.S. foreign policy today. He authorized the use of atomic bombs against Japan in 1945. The first bomb was dropped by the plane Enola Gay on the city of Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. A second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later; Japan surrendered on 14 August.

    When the state of Israel was proclaimed on 14 May 1948, Truman officially recognized the new state only eleven minutes after it was declared, citing the Holocaust as the reason for his support of the political Zionist movement.

    During Truman's presidency, the United States joined NATO. Truman was also the propagator of the "Truman Doctrine," taking an active stance against Soviet expansion during the early years of the Cold War.

    You can see whether or not you are related to Harry Truman by going to the Relationship Calculator on the Family Dashboard Page when you login to OneGreatFamily.

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  • OneGreatFamily Tip: The General Statistics Widget On Family Dashboard

    Information About Your Family Tree In One Easy Place

    On Family Dashboard there is a box that has General Statistics about your family tree at OneGreatFamily. As you enter information about your ancestors and you gain access to information through OneGreatFamily, this box will tell you some very interesting information.

    Some of the information it will update you on is: number of generations, total individuals, ancestors that OneGreatFamily has found for you, individuals with no names, merges on your tree, and hints for possible new ancestors found though OneGreatFamily. You can click on each category to get more information and specific names.

    As always, we are happy to help if you have additional questions, so don't hesitate to call 1-877-643-8733 or email if you need assistance.

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  • Genealogy: Networking in Repositories and Libraries

    The following article is a sample from Barry J. Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History." He is the founder of, an online educational website for genealogy and family history. 

    Many libraries, archives, and societies have excellent and well-known collections of genealogical research materials. Several of these repositories-particularly the smaller ones-maintain lists of researchers and the local area families they are researching.

    One of the better-known repositories is the Family History Library (FHL), owned and maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and located in Salt Lake City, Utah. (For more information, visit It is the most widely known repository of genealogical materials. The FHL has been acquiring and preserving genealogical data since its founding in 1894. The library has collected vital information on hundreds of millions of deceased individuals. This data includes print and microform copies of records from all over the world. Copies of records are made available at the library in Salt Lake City and at family history centers throughout the United States and in many foreign countries as well. All are welcome to visit the FHL and its subsidiaries. A catalog of FHL sources is available online.

    Societies. Hundreds of genealogical and historical societies across the country seek to preserve records and provide instruction to family historians. Most genealogists are willing to share findings, exchange ideas, and tell of their research experience. Societies work to preserve records, make records available, promote educational opportunities, and encourage participation in society activities. By tapping into the society's resources, you gain educational opportunities, instructional articles published in their periodicals, local skill-building sessions, and one- or two-day seminars featuring nationally known professionals. You will find members of the societies who know some or all of the following helpful information:

    • Which records are available
    • How you can access those records
    • What information is online, in books, and in folders
    • The experience level of members and other genealogists
    • Where information is located if they don't have it
    • Who to talk to if they don't know the answer-perhaps leading you to others who may be researching your surname
    • History of the immigrants

    Many groups form at the county level because of the research significance of local area records; organizations also exist to study a single surname or the descendants of a particular couple. Ethnic or religious origins account for many such groups, such as the Polish Genealogical Society of America and Pursuing Our Italian Names Together (P.O.I.N.T.). Other societies bring together researchers with common locales of origin-for example, groups such as The Palatines to America and Germans from Russia.

    Every state has a genealogical or historical society, a state council, or both. In addition to major projects, the following is a list of the types of projects that a state-level group might coordinate with the efforts of local societies within the state:

    • Their publications (newsletters and journals) supplement those produced by local societies.
    • Some state organizations, such as the Ohio Genealogical Society, offer chapter membership throughout the country.
    • Other state organizations operate on a less-structured basis.
    • At the national level, a number of organizations serve individual genealogists or societies, such as the following:
    • The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)-www.fgs .org.
    • Umbrella organizations for genealogical and historical societies and research institutes, such as libraries and archives.
    • The National Genealogical Society (NGS) comprised of individual
    • The oldest society in the United States is the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)

    Volunteer efforts. Most societies create and manage projects to benefit the genealogical community, such as indexing and preservation activities and producing periodicals and other publications. There are also many genealogists who work independently of societies. You will find numerous online indexes and databases created by these volunteers. Many of these projects are on the USGenWeb Project at This website is full of volunteer-driven sites that publish historical information and resource material, such as a list of sites that offer cemetery indexes and newspaper abstracts.

    Volunteers maintain sites and often provide important local details about an area's history, geography, and settlement. They also usually give an overview of record availability and access and research tips.

    Professional groups. You can interact with professional genealogists by writing articles and books, presenting lectures that provide new information, and giving examples of methodologies to help in difficult research situations. Professionals often lead efforts to protect records in jeopardy and to make them available for wide use. Many (but not all) professionals conduct research on a contract basis for others and can assist a family historian with a quest that seems impossible. The research that professionals do ranges from an entire lineage to small but significant tasks in their field of expertise.

    In the United States, there are several groups that serve the interests of professional genealogists and their clients, as well as those of the genealogical community. The following is a list of some such organizations, along with some basic information about each group:

    • The Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) PO Box 40393, Denver, CO 80204-0393
    • Membership organization that does not administer tests, award credentials, or otherwise endorse individual researchers.
    • The association does offer arbitration in the event a dispute arises between any association member and the general public.
    • The APG website ( lists members' names, contact details, and areas of expertise.
    • The Board for Certification of Genealogists PO Box 14291, Washington, DC 20044
    • Certifying body that is not affiliated with any group.
    • BCG screens applicants through a testing process; successful candidates earn the initials CG (Certified Genealogist).
    • A roster ofcertified genealogists is at the BCG website: www
    • The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen)
    • Offers independent testing without membership.
    • This program, established in 1964 (by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), is designed to examine and accredit researchers in specialized geographic areas.
    • Those who successfully complete the program receive the initials AG (Accredited Genealogist).
    • The American Society of Genealogists (ASG)
    • Founded in 1940 as an honorary society, limited to fifty lifetime members designated as Fellows (identified by the initials FASG):
    • Election to the ASG is based on a candidate's published genealogical scholarship.
    • A list of Fellows and news of the ASG Scholar Award can be found at their website (
    Blogs. A blog, short for "web log," is an easy way to post new information online. When a new article or tip is posted, it is sent automatically to anyone who has subscribed to the blog. By subscribing to one or more genealogy blogs, you can keep up with the latest techniques, tips, and databases.

    How can you get the most out of your blog reading time? Focus on the title. Look over the article (just a brief scan). Determine if the post is of interest or value to you. If not, carry on elsewhere.

    If it is of interest, analyze who wrote the post. What are their qualifications for this topic?

    Determine one or two questions that you hope to find answers to by reading the post before thoroughly reading it. This will transform you from a passive consumer of information into an active reader. Read the actual post. Reflect on the questions you asked yourself before you read the post. Were your questions answered? Take mental or written notes about the post. Summarize the post in your own words.

    Read more great genealogy tips in Barry Ewell's book "Family Treasures: 15 Lessons, Tips, and Tricks for Discovering your Family History.

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