SpringBoard is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 2 May 2018.

W141, Ruth Ann Abels Hager, CG®, CGL℠, “What Do I Really Have Here? Analyzing Sources Effectively”

Reviewed by Diane Florence Gravel, CG®

Have you ever stared at a genealogical or historical record, baffled by the page that lies before you? What does it mean? Where did it come from? How can I use this information?

Ruth Ann Hager, CG, CGL

In “What Do I Really Have Here?” Ruth Ann Hager provides an excellent guide to in-depth analysis of sources, based on BCG Standard 37. Entertaining and informative, for the novice genealogist to the more experienced researcher, Hager cleverly discusses original and derivative sources. She uses Russian Stacking Dolls to demonstrate multiple generations of derivative sources, an impressive image likely to remain in the mind for years to come. She also discusses how to identify differences that can occur in progressive generations of images of a single document, as we drift further and further from the original record.

Learn the significance of the historical context in which records are created and the reason for their creation; both factors that impact how we evaluate the records. “Focus on the source, rather than the data inside it,” says Hager, as she demonstrates this crucial step in genealogical research.

You’ll learn the basics of thorough source analysis, a valuable tool in determining relevance and credibility. As a former librarian, Hager explores the abundance of information to be discovered in “front matter” and “back matter” of published records, even those in foreign languages. You’ll learn how to decipher those foreign symbols, terms, and abbreviations using online translation tools.

Hager offers a fascinating exploration of maps as a research tool, including USGS topographic maps, and how they may be used to locate churches and other sites of genealogical interest.

If you’ve used microfilm, especially digitized records online, you may have missed important clues to additional records hidden in the margins and at the beginning and end of the film. Hager shows you where to find those clues. You may even discover a full citation beneath one of those marginal tabs!

A recording of this lecture may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

The words Certified Genealogist and letters CG are registered certification marks, and the designations CGL and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.