Meeting Archives

October 11, 2004 Gladys Friedman Paulin


Topic: "Do Documents Lie?

Records Created by and for our Immigrant Ancestors"

Things that influence the accuracy of Documents:
Emotions of the person answering questions or filling out the documents
Language of the person answering questions or filling out the documents
	Does that person only speak and or write in their native language?
	Is their language different from the clerk or person filling out the document?
Fears of person answering questions, such as the census
	Fear of authorities
	Fear of being labeled as part of an ethnic group
	Fear that their language is not easily understood by the person filling out the document
	or census
Conformist syndrome
	Change one's birth date to show an older or younger age that would benefit them;
	such as application for Social Security or wife not wanting to appear to be older
	than their spouse, or to show an older age for marriage or military service to
	meet minimum age requirements.

When a researcher has a language barrier because their ancestor spoke and/or
wrote in another language, the researcher must keep in mind the following :
phonics, handwriting, spelling problems, think of how the name sounds and
how it might be written.  Learn how the letters were written in the alphabet
of the original language.  Find out if the name had a meaning that might
influence how they wrote their name or nickname when living in America. 
Document Analysis
Look at the ORIGINAL if possible any thing else is considered a Derivative.
Some derivatives have been freshly typed and are not identical to the
original; as there might be typing errors or information left out.
Consider why and when was the document created and who provided the
information.  Was the information actually provided by the person listed
on the document?
Look at Primary [eyewitness] versus Secondary
Consider DIRECT versus Indirect [ie. a calculated birth from a census]
If after exhaustive research a definitive answer is not possible, then
use a GENEALOGICAL PROOF STANDARD.  Do a reasonably exhaustive search.
Write a complete and accurate citation, analyze and correlate all the collected
information , assess the quality of each piece of evidence, resolve any
conflicts, and then write a soundly reasoned conclusion.

Donna Card



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