How and Why?

When analyzing any genealogy record, ask “how did this person get in this record and why?” Many times the answer is simple–die and you get a death certificate but other times it is not.

It’s crucial to ask that about everyone that appears in any record in which your ancestor appears–do not just ask the question about the ancestor. Think about the role of everyone else whose name appears. Would they have had to have been a certain age? Would they have had to be legally competent? Would they have had a specific relationship to your ancestor or to anyone else in the document?