Monday, September 2, 2013

Rookie Mistake–Source Documentation

I am working on my genealogical documentation, as stated in my previous posts: A New Start and also Slow and Easy. I have run into yet another snag in my previous research and documentation, that if done correctly the first time, would have saved much time now.

The current problem is within the marriage of John and Anna Pakledinaz (my great grandparents). It is not that I do not know when or where they were married, I am confident I know this information. They were married on 15 January 1910 in Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio. The problem is with my documentation of this information. Here is a list of my sources/information:

  1. Back in 2000, I wrote to the Youngstown Diocese to find out about St. Joseph Church and the marriage record of John and Anna. The Chancellor wrote back that same day saying the church does not exist anymore but she has the records in her office. She gave me the information I requested, here is exactly what she wrote: "There is a marriage record for Pakledinaz/Hinterhauser. imageAlthough the record is difficult to read, as it was written in cursive Latin and fountain pen, it looks like the name is Joannes(John) Hinterhausen and Annam (Ann or Anna) Pakledinaz. The witnesses were Adam Willie and P_____ (unreadable) Flagger. January 15, 1910: married by Rev. J. W. Klute. The parents' names are not listed.” NOTE: The last names are reversed for John and Anna?  
  2. The day after that email traffic, the Chancellor typed and certified a Certificate of Marriage with the seal of the Chancellery and sent it to me. (I only have the certificate, I did not keep the envelop or anything else she may have sent with it). (Again the last names are reversed for John and Anna).
  3. I also have another Marriage Certificate imagein my possession, although this is a copy. This is a certificate obtained May 7, 1951. This lists the same information but does not reverse the last names and does list the name of John and Anna's parents (Score). It also says on the lower left corner, "Vol 1 Page 133.

What I have is pretty good evidence to prove the marriage of John and Anna on 15 January 1910 in Youngstown. However, here are the questions I have when trying to put these sources into my database and my rookie mistakes when I got these sources.

For #2, I do not know if any other information came with the certificate since I did not keep the envelope. I also do not know which type of source was used to compile the information although it sounds like the church book as was mentioned in #1 above. I would much rather have a photo or copy of the original church book, then I can evaluate what was written for myself and see if the names were actually reversed in the book or was it a mistake of the Chancellor who gave me the information.

For #3, where did this information come from, where did it originate? Where did I get it from? This was obtained in 1951 and it is singed by a Reverend, so I'm guessing that it came from church records. But if this did come from the church records then why did it contain the parents names and #2 did not? I'm guessing that the vol 1 page 133 is showing the book it came from, but who has that book? If the Chancellor does then why does it not have the parents name again? Maybe this record is from the official court records for the marriage and the vol 1 page 133 refers to their documentation at the courts?

All these questions frustrate me because most could be answered if I would have kept better record of my sources. This is what I am learning:

  1. It is not enough to document your source information, you must also know where that source came from. Ask the questions! I could have asked the chancellor’s office in the email chain about #1 and 2 but I did not.
  2. When you receive a copy of a source from someone else, whether it be in the mail or in email or in person, keep everything that accompanied that source - the envelope , the original email and all accompanied emails. Then make a note of everything that came with it and from whom you received it so you do not question yourself later, as I am doing now.

One of the reasons that I started this project, which I call my restart, is to find instances just as I am describing. I've learned a lot over the last several years about research and documentation, stuff that I wish I knew back in 2000 when I made these mistakes. But, I was a rookie way back then and I'm sure I'm going to find a lot more just like this.

What kind of rookie mistakes have you found in your own research? Have you fixed them? Leave a comment and tell us about them so we can all learn from each others mistakes.

I hope that someone can learn from my mistake here and not repeat it. Thanks for reading and keep diggin' for that family.


Note: I have written of John and Anna a couple other times, you can read them in these posts: Surname Saturday - Paklendinaz - Pakledinac and Pakledinac- Irish? and also Ancestor Appreciation Day: My Immigrant Ancestors.


  1. For books, in addition to the normal citiations, I also note where I found the book, so I can go back and refer to it. Was it at a website, a certain library, a book owned by someone I know? That way if I want to look at it again, I can try my original source.

  2. Thanks for the comment and excellent advice. I've made that mistake writing college papers and a recent chapter I wrote for a book. I had notes and a citation for a book, but could not remember where the book was? I lost probably a day tracking that thing down - turned out it was a library loan from my college library in West Virginia. Need to track everything about the source you use. Thanks.