Using and Evaluating Websites
Websites and databases can provide valuable information for your genealogy research, just like books, paper journals, and primary sources. There are literally thousands of websites that focus on family histories; the key is to determine if the website is reliable and accurate.
Here are a few evaluation tips to keep in mind when using websites:
- Who created the website?
- Is it a reliable organization, a well-known institution, or a subject expert?
- Can you trust them?
- Is the information provided correct? Can you verify the information in print sources?
- Is the grammar and spelling correct? If not, then you might want to reconsider using the information, or at least be cautious.
- Is the information a fact or an assumption? Remember, you are looking for facts as proof of evidence, so look for the source quotation.
Here are a few tips in how to use websites:
- Determine what information you are looking for; then review the sites for what they can provide.
- Allow yourself a few minutes to learn to navigate the site before you begin your research.
- Keep a detailed record of the site(s) you visited and the information you gathered. It is often helpful to keep an “Online Research Record” so you can list the sites visited, information gathered, and date.
- Double check all the URLs that you list in your records. Three weeks later you may want to visit that site again for additional information.
We have provided several links to websites that are well-known and used by researchers on a regular basis. Some of the websites included are government, society and organizations, popular research institutions, and websites that provide links to additional research sites for you to peruse.