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  • Your Family Bible: A Treasure Trove

    Before the times of digitized records, microfilms, and family history programs used to store genealogical data, families recorded their births, marriages, deaths, and baptisms in the family bible. Family bibles are priceless to genealogists because they contain primary source information about family events.

    A primary source record was written at the time that an incident occurred, or shortly thereafter, by someone who was involved. Unlike secondary source material, which was recorded at a later time, primary source information is not hearsay. Most of the events you will find recorded in a family bible were written down by the family record-keeper, often the matriarch of the family, shortly after they happened.

    Where can you find family bibles? They can be in the possession of antique dealers or collectors, or they can be part of a family bible record collection. Bible record collections aim to transcribe the information in family bibles and make them available to researchers. Some bible collections with online indexes are: The Bible Archives, Bible Records Online, and Family Bible Records.

    It is most likely, however, that your family bible is still in your family's possession. Talk to living relatives like your aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents. Even if they don't have the bible, they may know the distant cousin who does. Once you track down the current owner of the family bible, you can ask him or her for the genealogical information it contains. He or she probably won't want to part with the bible to loan it to you, but you can ask for a transcription or a photocopy. Get a photocopy of the pages if you can, because you can learn a lot by evaluating the ink and handwriting.

    Family information is usually recorded in the front of the bible, but ask if you can check the other pages as well. Sometimes documents, photos, or other mementos are tucked in between the pages.

    Most, but not all, information in a family bible is primary source material. There are a few simple ways to tell if the information in the bible was written down at the time that the events happened. Check the publication date of the bible, advises genealogist George Morgan (Morgan 1998). If the bible was published after the events on the family record page occurred, they were all written down much later, and this information is not primary.

    You should also pay attention to variations in ink and handwriting. If the handwriting changes, that means that information was recorded at different times or by different people. If some of the ink looks especially faded, that text was probably written down earlier than the rest. On the other hand, if the ink and handwriting all looks the same, the information must have all been written down at the same time, after the events occurred. This kind of secondary information is not necessarily incorrect, but it needs to be evaluated carefully. It is also important to be aware that family record-keepers may have altered information that they didn't want future generations to know. A wedding date may have been "fudged" to hide the fact that a child was born less than nine months after marriage, for instance.

    As long as you carefully evaluate the information from a family bible, it is one of the greatest genealogical sources you'll ever encounter. Only in a family bible will you find the births of children who died young, in between censuses, who were not recorded anywhere else. And only in a family bible will you find your family's genealogical events, recorded in your ancestor's own hand.

    Morgan, George G. 1998. Questioning the Bible.
    "Along those Lines."
    www.ancestry.com (accessed August 4, 2007).

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  • Adding Documentation To OneGreatFamily Is Vital To Your Record Keeping

    One of our subscribers recently asked us, "If all of the information on OneGreatFamily.com is submitted by other users, how can I be sure that it is correct?"

    As experienced genealogists know, you should never take anyone else's work as being correct. Instead, you need to verify the information using sound genealogical techniques.

    That is why we like to think of OneGreatFamily as a great source for research leads. It is almost always easier to substantiate a lead then it is to discover missing data. OneGreatFamily can be a rich source of research leads based on the submissions of other genealogists.

    Perhaps you are at a brick wall on a great-, great-, great-grandfather. In OneGreatFamily a user has entered a name for that ancestor. Fantastic -now you have a lead to substantiate. You can collaborate with that submitter. Or you can go research the provided name.

    Many genealogists use OneGreatFamily primarily for the research leads it provides.

    Another question we often get is, "How can you be sure your automated match/merge technology won't mess up my genealogy research?" There are two parts to the answer to that question. First, our automated merging technology never changes your data. Our technology is sophisticated enough to keep everybody's data unchanged even when we merge ancestors together. We could merge 50 people into one and it wouldn't change your data.

    Second, we have patent-pending software that merges the right ancestors into your family tree. OneGreatFamily's software ensures that only high-quality matches are combined to your family tree. In one test, we pitted OneGreatFamily's merging process against a panel of genealogists. OneGreatFamily was less likely to match people incorrectly than the panel of professional genealogists.

    Because we are merging ancestors together, we encourage all of our subscribers to use the citation and collaboration features in Genealogy BrowserT.

    You can help improve the quality of the database by citing your sources for the data that you submit to OneGreatFamily. When you include citations in your family tree, you improve the credibility of your family history, and you can help others find their genealogy as well. When you take the time to find sources for your genealogy, you are less likely to jump to wrong conclusions. You can ensure that you are passing along accurate information.

    Documenting your sources also saves you time because you don't get lost researching the wrong line, and you don't have to go back again to find things that you have already researched.

    In Genealogy Browser, you can include sources and citations for any ancestor or family on your tree. The citations you include with your ancestors' records become available to others OneGreatFamily subscribers to help with the collaborative effort.

    When another user has not included citations with the ancestors that he or she submitted, you can still find out where that user obtained the information by using OneGreatFamily's Collaborate feature. Collaborating with other users allows you to see who else is working on your genealogy. For every family and individual, you can find out who submitted the information and contact that user. Collaboration at OneGreatFamily allows you to contact the individual with the common ancestor and ask where the information came from. With this unique OneGreatFamily feature, you can find sources to support your genealogical data.

    Our program's one-of-a-kind merging feature, combined with the power of citation and collaboration, gives you access to easy, fun, and accurate genealogy.

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