Reliability of Documents
A List of 1st 2nd & 3rd source type documents
In doing genealogy many face documents that are not a 1st source document since for a time period many types of documentation do not exist or other extenuating circumstances. Perhaps if it was not for The Great Depression and WWII caring and having documents may not be such a priority for us.
1st Source Documents
I have many ancestors born after 1900 that having a birth certificate was not a priority for their family. Many had to have a sworn document from parent/parents to swear as to the date of their Childs birth. As you see here for my grandfather Clifford DuCap. His mother Margaret DuCap had to go to the County to “Swear” of Clifford’s birth. To me this is a rare sort of document. It is a 1st source document.
. This as it would seem was children born at home. For the most part up until the 1940 home birth was the common way. Then of course birth at Hospitals was the common place. Home birth became a novelty then.
But Why? What makes it a 1st source document? All first source documentation have certain elements to them.
A] The* people attending the birth have first hand knowledge of the Childs birth. No reason to falsify the documentation. [*parents, midwife, doctor, aunts, grandparents, and/or friends assisting in the birth process]
B] The fact that it had to have an official seal, also witnesses that could verify what was stated. Again no reason to falsify the documentation.
Another source for a birth recording is Baptizmal record. Of course this would be Infant Baptizim. No reason to falsify
Because no one can remember their own birth we have to trust those who were there to report it correctly. To report the correct date and year of our birth.
1st source document means 1st hand knowledge of the birth of a child.
Recap 1st source documents:
1] Birth record from Hospital with Doctor/Midwife signature
2] Signed affidavite of Mother/Father to the birth
3] Baptizmial Record in several cultures this would be the Birth source document. ie… infant Baptizim
2ND Source Documents
Include but limited to:
Some might be inclined to include most if not all of my 2ndry source list as 1st source. My train of thought is about what document can stand on its own as to prove a birth. With actual facts, first hand knowlede of an ancestors exentience. Where no misinformation can exestice.
Why these are on my 2ndry list.
School Records: Was a birth certificate provided in order to enroll in school. If not then who provided correct date of birth for said child? Not a 1st source since there are variables.
Church Records: In this case has to with familes who have moved from place of nativity. When listing out the children and not providing birth records/baptizimal records. If a child was born and continued living in the same church boundries, to me these records would be 1st source. But if its not the case then its 2nd source.
Military records: DO you know of any one that has told you a story of how they said that they were a year older so they could join up? I do. So then to me its means that birth records were not required to join in the Fight. So defiently a 2nd to 3rd source document. Don’t rely for actual birth info.
Pension Records: Following up on Military Records same goes 2nd or 3rd source documentation.
Court Records: These records may place an ancestor in a paticular location at a paticular time and place. Most likely will not include birth information. A document to confirm you 1st source.
Probate Records: This is the department where Wills are filed. Perhaps land records too. Great source if the Ancestors filed a Will. Some wills reveal childrennames, other spouses, Aunts, Uncles etc… Most defiently a 2nd source.
Insurance Records: With Life Insurance policies dates of birth will be listed. This is a rare 2nd source document for Ancestors. I had one Ancestor that had a insurance policy with the MacAbees. Wow what a name! Long historical name. Which it appears to have been a popular thing to do in the 19th century to have religious significate names associates with Insurance groups. Most incidents a 2nd source document
Prayer Cards: These are the Cards that are given out at Funerals/Viewings
As you see here Therese R. Sylvester name birth & death date is listed. But then the birth date is only as good the person providing the information. No one requires a birth cert. to show the descendant birth date. That being said it is a 2nd source document.
3rd Source Document
3rd Source Documents are those documents that back up your 1st and 2nd source documents. many times you will find a 3rd source quite easily. Whereas the 1st & 2nd ones will cost money or location unknown as to where to obtain the documents.
My 3rd Source List:
Census records, State, Local or National
Any record that requires one or two other to connect them together.