Sunday, March 09, 2014

SLCC Genealogy Course: Post #22 - Evidence Evaluation

I'm still working on getting caught up on my Salt Lake Community College, Genealogy Course assignments. This week we learned vocabulary words used for evidence evaluation. Then we needed to apply the evidence vocabulary when evaluating a genealogical document.

I decided to use my great-grandfather, John Henry Weatherwax, Sr's death certificate.

This was my Evidence Evaluation:

This document is a transcript from an original death record for John Henry Weatherwax. It is considered a derivative source since the town clerk needed to transcribe the information to create a copy of this record. During the transcription process errors could have been introduced. This transcript is not dated, but given the fact there is a barcode on the document, tells us it is a more recent creation since computers did not exist in 1925.

The information on the death event would be primary information since only one day passed from his death on 17 May 1925 and the date the record was filed on 18 May 1925. The information on his birth date and place would be secondary information. He was 70 years old at the time of death and it is very unlikely anyone providing the birth information was an actual witness to birth. It can be assumed that John was buried in Greenwich, NY, since that was the plan at the time of his death. It is unclear if the burial already took place between his death and the recording of it one day later. It's possible given the nature of his chronic illness, warmer weather, and the economic cost of preserving a body during the depression that plans could have been made for a quick burial.

The names of John's parents on the document could be direct evidence of his parentage. It really depends on who the informant was and their knowledge of that fact. This document shows us that at his time of death he was married. If the informant was his wife, she may have known his parents personally and would have been a great source for this information, if stress did not factor in. The fact he was married gives us indirect evidence that his wife would have died after 17 May 1925.

There does not appear to be any conflicting information on this document.

We had a group discussion on what we learned from this assignment this is what I wrote.
I was familiar with all the vocabulary words we needed to define and what they meant. What I had not previously done is write out my evaluation of a document. I evaluated a transcript of my great-grandfather's death certificate. I found the more I looked at it and considered which type of evidence type is was, I understood how I can't things at face value. While writing things down I found I also looked closer at the information and what it was telling me.

I was able to apply on that one document nearly every vocabulary word. I found as nice as the transcript was I really wanted to see the original record and have all the information. The death certificate did not include the informant's name, so you didn't know how much trust to give the information. I also kept thinking about possible transcription errors on top of everything else. This assignment just really drove home how you can't rely solely on one record.
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!


Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed all your posts about your course. Thank you for sharing your education.

Geolover said...

Renee, thanks for sharing your evaluation.

The statement as to parents is direct evidence on the question: who were the parents of the deceased?

But its quality is undetermined, since this copy does not identify the informant.

If the informant was the decedent's wife or a child, and the couple had at some time lived next to his parents or the parents lived with them, then you have further evidence as to who actually knew his parents.

You are quite right to point out that a copy of the original record is needed for further evaluation.