As mentioned at On- and off-topic questions: an attempt to reach consensus (please read first) this is one of a set of questions attempting to reach consensus on the scope for this site.

This question focuses on questions relating to

Interpreting records

i.e. advice and guidance on understanding the content of individual records and record types

Please up-vote answers you believe are on-topic, down-vote answers you believe are off topic and add your own suggestions for what should be in or out (with your view made clear).

Related questions:

What is "Genealogy," "Family History," and "Microhistory"?

On- and off-topic questions: Application of technology

On- and off-topic questions: Research processes and methodologies

On- and off-topic questions: Locating records and documents

On- and off-topic questions: Researching specific ancestors

On- and off-topic questions: Other specialist related topics

6 Answers 6


Reading and comparing handwriting

ColeValleyGirl view: On-topic


Working with records in foreign languages

ColeValleyGirl view: on-topic


Dating, identifying and extracting information from photographs, paintings and other visual media

ColeValleyGirl view: On-topic


Understanding historical terminology in records

ColeValleyGirl view: On-topic (if it can't be answered by simple reference to a dictionary)

  • Your rider about reference to a dictionary is a slippery slope. There are a worrying number of questions now on the site that can be answered through the use of G..g.e without any particular genealogical expertise.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 3:19
  • Purely by chance, within minutes of making that comment I found a question on the main site (which I will not identify) that could be answered by typing a single word into a search engine. This must not become the preferred alternative to Ask.com or similar!
    – Fortiter
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 8:57
  • @Fortiter, having waded through the sludge at Yahoo! Answers I do agree.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 9:05
  • @Fortiter, however, ideally the best answer people will find when they Google is on this site. So somebody has to ask those sorts of questions here, perhaps.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 9:11
  • @Fortiter, just seen the question you mention. Yes, Google answered it. And this site shouldn't be where the answer is found.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 9:51

Understanding record types and their contents or use e.g. What is a marriage bann and what does it tell me? How might a probate record help in my research?

ColeValleyGirl view: On-topic


Evaluating the reliability of a specific source or source type

ColeValleyGirl view: On-topic

  • I believe this to be on topic but is near to the slippery slope of subjective opinion. We probably should provide further guidance with examples of sticking to the facts. Eg I think it appropriate to ask about the reliability of a particular record in okgenweb.org/~okahgp/f_250.htm#16 (the Oklahoma genealogical database that doesn't happen to include sources other than to say generically "has been extracted from cemetery records, Social Security Death Index, obituaries, NWOGS "Key Finder," newspapers, etc". I'm sure someone can add an inappropriate opinion question as an example.
    – Duncan
    Commented Dec 11, 2012 at 3:44

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