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Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof Relating to Pedigrees, Ancestry, Heirship and Family History [Paperback]

by Noel C. Stevenson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1989 0894121596 978-0894121593 Revised
This book is a classic in genealogical literature. Filled with abundant legal citations and case histories, the text provides a wealth of valuable information concerning genealogical matters, including legitimacy, illegitimacy, marriage, birth, death, age, and identity. Also included are suggestions regarding locating critical facts and examples of those types of evidence necessary to prove or disprove matters which concern pedigree, heirship, inheritance, and will contests. In her column "Kinsearching," Marleta Childs says, "Genealogical Evidence is a must for every genealogical collection." It is an invaluable aid for genealogists, librarians, record searchers, historians, biographers, and lawyers.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Aegean Park Pr; Revised edition (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0894121596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0894121593
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,678,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My favorite resource for assessing genealogical info December 3, 1998
By A Customer
This book has become one of my most-used genealogical helpers. It discusses the broad categories of genealogical source info (census, will, land record, newspaper articles, etc.) and comments on the qualities to look for to judge just how reliable the document is. I notched my review from five stars down to four only because the terminology used ventures into tricky-to-follow "legalese" in a few places.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" for your genealogy how-to shelf June 24, 2007
Stevenson was not only a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, he was also an attorney with a national reputation in techniques in cross-examination and evaluation of legal evidence. In this volume, he brings all those skills together to create an authoritative text in the examination and evaluation of legal, historical, and genealogical information, a codification of proper methods. He begins with the application of family research in probate and heirship cases, since that's where the stuff that we do and what lawyers do most often impinge on one another. Under "Hazards, Risks, and Remedies," he discusses paternity and legitimacy, the problem of surnames and of proving identity (as opposed to descent), and the special problems of claims to noble lineage and false pedigrees. Then he examines the class of records that are "official and public": vital records (how accurate are they, really?), irregular and common law marriages, civil and criminal court records, land records, and the federal census. Then come "unofficial" records, including published family histories, church records, Bible records, monuments and memorials (especially in cemeteries), and newspaper articles and notices. Finally, he provides as astute but very readable semi-technical guide to the rules of evidence and hearsay. There's also a very good glossary of genealogical and legal terminology the researcher needs to know. Throughout, Stevenson includes synopses of illustrative law cases, research checklists, and his own informed opinions on the published work of other experts. Read more ›
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best genealogical books I've read! July 11, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I heartily recommend this book to any budding genealogists, and encourage them to read it sooner rather than later.

Stevenon's book is a compelling, if a bit dense, challenge to genealogists to be sure that what they claim can be substantiated witha preponderance of evidence. By emphasizing quality over quantity, and with view towards the standards of proof demanded by courts, Stevenson gives his readers the tools to produce credible and reliable genealogies.

Stevenson suggests to his readers that the distinction between professional and amateur is much less important than the difference between compentent and incompetent, and he will show you how to tell one from the other.

This is certainly one of the five best, and most important, genealogy books ever written. Following the advice contained herein will ensure that most genealogists will avoid the mistakes that are all too common in most family trees.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Explodes a Lot of Genealogical Myths February 13, 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Genealogical Evidence is not an easy read. It was written by a lawyer who is a certified genealogist, and the writing style resembles what one often encounters in a legal brief. However, the content is eye-opening for would-be genealogists or for those who are simply curious about their ancestry. The chapter entitled "Identity" explodes a lot of myths about surnames and points out that between 1607 and 1840 many immigrants arrived in America without a surname (they simply picked one upon arrival, given that surnames were expected in America). There are also helpful chapters on the derivation of surnames, claims of royal lineage, and heraldry. For a variety of reasons outlined in the book, it is exceedingly rare for anyone to be able to trace their ancestry earlier than 1600. After reading this book, one comes to realize that much of what passes for genealogical research is guesswork and conjecture. All in all, the book is a good addition to anyone's genealogical reference library.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for certification requirements June 7, 2007
A book that tells the difference between 1st source of evidence verses secondary. This is the only book, I was able to evaluate family pages found in the Bible. A Well written book.
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