TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2004-01 > 1075081786
From: "Stuart Armstrong" <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] Sureties
Date: Sun, 25 Jan 2004 18:49:51 -0700
References: <200401251626.i0PGQs6j032723@lists5.rootsweb.com> <email@example.com>
I don't agree with your definition of direct and indirect evidence.
Direct evidence states a "fact" directly, such as a census record that states that she is the daughter of the head of house.
Indirect evidence does not so state, but may imply a relationship, or the conclusion may be derived indirectly by considering the probable synthesis of several pieces of evidence.
For example, on a census:
John is the head of household.
Mary is listed as the wife.
Jane is listed as John's daughter.
Is Mary Jane's mother?
Answer: this record does not directly say so. But if I happen to know from another source that John and Mary were married at the time of Jane's birth, I may conclude with a fair amount of confidence that Mary was Jane's mother. But I have arrived at that conclusion indirectly.
In the cemetery:
John is listed on one side of a flat stone. Mary is on the opposite end and her age is about the same as John's. Although no statement is made that they were married, I may conclude that judging from the placement of the names on the stone, the design and conventions used in that cemetery, and many other considerations, that Mary was John's wife. The evidence is indirect. It seems to imply a certain conclusion without actually saying so.
Indirect evidence is just as valid as direct evidence, as long as the conclusions are reached carefully.
Mary Matilda Smith is the wife of James Henry Smith in 1910. She is 21 years old. In the same neighborhood, James Henry Smith is easily recognized with his family ten years earlier in 1900. Four houses away is a Mary Matilda Jones, age 11. I could at least tentatively conclude from this that Mary Matilda Smith's maiden name was Jones. I have arrived at the conclusion indirectly. I may be wrong or I may be right. Given that these are common names I might easily be wrong. But if they were uncommon, there would be very little room for doubt. In either case, further research might uncover even more indirect evidence that is consistent with my theory. I might never find any actual direct evidence, but I might be very sure nonetheless.
I suppose another synonym for indirect evidence is circumstantial. What you're describing is simply the degree of completeness of the evidence -- another useful scale in evaluating evidence.
----- Original Message -----
From: JoAnn L. Gemmrig<mailto:>
Sent: Sunday, January 25, 2004 1:27 PM
Subject: [TMG] Sureties
Direct evidence is 'complete' information. The complete date or place of
an event. "Born 6 June 1841." "...were married at the First Christian
Church, Frankfort, KY'
Indirect is 'general' information. "Born in Germany." "Died in
Kentucky." "...were married in the summer." Still clues, but need further