Re: Genealogical Proof Standard

Adrian Bruce

Philosophy warning:-

On Wed, 6 May 2020 at 19:50, Jan Murphy ... wrote:
... You may already be aware that the Strathclyde course (and Family Historian itself) uses the term "primary" and "secondary" in a way that differs from the usage in the USA where people are following the model of Elizabeth Shown Mills and her book Evidence Explained. ...
I've always thought that there was a little more to it than that, Jan.
As Mike says, the Primary / Secondary attribute sits on the link
between "fact" and source-record, so it is, quite naturally, easily
applied to the particular information inside the source relevant to
that fact. A census schedule, for instance, contains primary info
about occupation (say) and secondary about a birth.

The bit that I can't get my head around is that the US definition of
Primary (info) appears to depend solely on whether the knowledge is
first hand or not. So a 90y old mother would be regarded as providing
Primary info about the birth of her child 70y previously. Regardless
of any memory problems that might, or might not, apply. The typical UK
definition of primary puts an extra criteria (criterion?) about being
close to the event, so would regard the 90y old mother as providing
secondary info, directly encouraging a degree of scepticism about the
info being provided.

I have to say that code values in FH for original / derivative and
direct / indirect / negative from US practice would be most welcome.
(A lack of code values doesn't stop you thinking about those concepts,
of course). However, even there, once I start thinking about it,
things start to crumble a bit. I did once ask in another place
(BetterGEDCOM? Don't think it was StackExchange...) about the IGI and
other indexes. The process of creating an index clearly creates a
Derivative. What is the information though? Primary or Secondary? It
doesn't make sense to drop it down to Secondary, because that's simply
repeating the fact that it's a Derivative. So that means, and this was
the consensus reply, the IGI and other indexes provide Derivative /
Primary info. This seems weird. In fact it then becomes (to get really
philosophical) difficult to see how information becomes Secondary
because the transformation it goes through is already taken care of in
the change from Original to Derivative. Something, I feel, is missing
from the definitions.


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