How Accurate Are Vital Records?
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How to Record Conflicting Information

Yesterday's article, How Accurate Are Vital Records?, explained that thorough research on an ancestor will often result in finding information that conflicts with known information. For example, in various documents, Asa Clark BROWN's birth was listed as Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and even Kentucky. Elizabeth Shown Mills' book Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian is one of the best resources to help you properly analyze this conflicting information.

Every piece of information, even conflicting information, should be recorded in Legacy. Recording it will help you better organize and analyze the conflicts. Suppose you found a record which listed a different birth place than the one you have previously recorded. Follow these steps to record an "alternate" event:

  1. In the Individual's Information screen, and a new Event/Fact.
  2. In the Event name field, type Alt. Birth.
  3. In the Date and Place fields, enter what the document provided.
  4. Add the appropriate source.
  5. Save the event.

The new Alt. Birth event now appears in the Events/Facts section of the Individual's Information screen. If you find another conflicting birth date/place, and another Alt. Birth event. Use as many Alt. events as necessary.

With your new analysis skills learned from Evidence!, you may come to a conclusion that the information in one or more of the alternate events that you've entered, is incorrect. When this happens, and hopefully it will, simply edit that event, and change the name from Alt. Birth to Disproven Birth. Then, in the event notes section, record your explanation of why you have disproven this information.

Whatever you do, do NOT delete the bad information once you have disproved it. Undoubtedly, other researchers will contact you and challenge the information you have. They will challenge you because they have not performed the same thorough research and analysis that you have, or they may have found new information. Having recorded the conflicting information, you will be able to explain to others why you believe your information is correct.

But remember, as Elizabeth Shown Mills suggests, the case is never closed on a genealogical conclusion. New evidence can be found which may challenge your findings. If you record all of the conflicting evidence, you will be better armed to document your heritage.


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