Archiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2007-02 > 1171194305

From: Tim Powys-Lybbe <>
Subject: Re: Another Gateway Ancestor Inquiry
Date: Sun, 11 Feb 2007 11:45:05 GMT
References: <>

In message of 11 Feb, Sarah Krans <> wrote:

> One citation about the death of John Gifford, Esq (and its a footnote
> even!). Most of the documentation from my to my gateway ancestors is
> actually birth, death, and marriage records when they exist - with
> citations from NEGHR as the primary secondary source of information.
> Both books basically have the same information in them. Why would I
> talk to Mr. Richardson unless I have a question that only he can
> answer? I have not reached that point in my research yet - same with
> contacting Mr. Roberts. When the registrar for the Order of the Crown
> of Charlemagne e-mails me pages from PA, I take that as accepted as a
> reputable source.

You now have to think about what a reputable source would look like.
Let's take methods of quoting sources as a criterion.

The very best historical and genealogical articles give an account of
the people and events. The make it clear which events are factual by
adding a footnote to show where they got that information from. Having
done this, their interpretations of the facts should be obvious to be

The footnotes should principally be to primary sources. There are
degrees of primary sources. The best primary source is the ancient
document itself or a photocopy of same. The next best is a
transcription where someone has copied the words out and got them
printed in a book. The next best is an abstract where they have
summarised the salient facts, left out everything they do not consider
relevant and translated them into another tongue.

The original primary sources must be documents of the time of the people
being studied. Documents a hundred years later are suspect. Documents
two hundred and more years later are not primary.

All other documents are secondary.

Now for your question: "... PA, I take that as accepted as a reputable
source". It is certainly not a primary source. At best it could be
secondary if it quoted primary sources.

But PA3's method is _not_ to footnote each fact with primary sources
where they come from. Instead it puts a jumble of references of highly
variable quality at the end of the account for each person. Some people
have gone through one or two of these lists of references in detail and
concluded that they do not support specific claimed facts. Further
where so-called primary documents are referenced in the text, at best
mostly they are abstracts in English which are several steps removed
from the original documents. Most of the references are to secondary
documents without making it clear that they are such.

You must make up your own mind whether any book suits your own

I once owned a copy of PA3. I gave it away. For free - and delivered
it for free too.

Tim Powys-Lybbe                                          
             For a miscellany of bygones:

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