McCartney's Journeys

Rules of Genealogical Evidence


The National Genealogical Society has published standards for genealogical research, including the following:

Remembering always that they are engaged in a quest for truth, family history researchers consistently--

  • Record the source for each item of information they collect.
  • Test every hypothesis or theory against credible evidence, and reject those that are not supported by the evidence.
  • Seek original records, or reproduced images of them when there is reasonable assurance they have not been altered, as the basis for their research conclusions.
  • Use compilations, communications and published works, whether paper or electronic, primarily for their value as guides to locating the original records.
  • State something as a fact only when it is supported by convincing evidence, and identify the evidence when communicating the fact to others.
  • Limit with words like "probable" or "possible" any statement that is based on less than convincing evidence, and state the reasons for concluding that it is probable or possible.
  • Avoid misleading other researchers by either intentionally or carelessly distributing or publishing inaccurate information.
  • State carefully and honestly the results of their own research, and acknowledge all use of other researchers' work.
  • Recognize the collegial nature of genealogical research by making their work available to others through publication, or by placing copies in appropriate libraries or repositories, and by welcoming critical comment.
  • Consider with open minds new evidence or the comments of others on their work and the conclusions they have reached.

© Copyright 1997 by National Genealogical Society. Permission is granted to copy or publish this material provided it is reproduced in its entirety, including this notice.