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Archiver > APG > 2006-02 > 1140450529

From: "Bill Bienia" <>
Subject: RE: [APG] Cite Your Sources!?
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 2006 10:48:49 -0500
In-Reply-To: <b66a4ad50602200547g36e223ffwe521c0d637a2c35f@mail.gmail.com>

I think there are several things to consider in determining whether the
tombstone is considered an original or derivative source. Tombstones and
their inscriptions were created at some period in time after the death. Was
this a few months or a few or more years? Did the informant, i.e. the person
ordering the stone, provide the information from memory because they were
there, and did they write down the information for the purposes of getting
the stone made up later? Did they have to consult family members to try to
reconstruct the information? Or did they use the family bible or Funeral
Card or Obituary to gather the information? The first case would make it an
original source; the last case would make it a derivative source. The middle
case is up in the air, for me at least. There generally is no way of knowing
for certain. If you can find information of when the tombstone was ordered
or put in place, perhaps you can narrow down the likelihood of being
original or derivative.

The date of death and the name of the deceased would be primary information.
The date and place of birth or age would be secondary.

The evidence provided by a tombstone is tenuous at best. If the informant
wrote down the death information at the time or copied it from other
records, it would be direct evidence. If it was created from memory a long
time after the death, or the informant asked his siblings to help
reconstruct the information at a later date, it could be considered hearsay

Tombstones, I feel, should be considered in the same view as an "index".
They provide clues to narrow the search for original records that were
created at the time for church or government purposes that are more reliable
in providing primary information and hence direct evidence. If no other
records are available, they may be the only source of evidence remaining.

However, unlike indexes, they provide an interesting photo opportunity to
include in family histories, providing a visual link to the past. If there
are errors, they can be explained in the text or in the caption below the


Bill Bienia,
Hillsburgh, Ontario

-----Original Message-----
From: Kenneth Aitken [mailto:]
Sent: February 20, 2006 8:47 AM
Subject: Re: [APG] Cite Your Sources!?

In my ignorance, I'm going to speak up on this issue and declare that the
gravestone is an riginal source.
Bear in mind that as you say, sources are original or derivative. And that
fact is independent of the information contained-- i'm a little shakey on
that point. So an original document can contain primary or secondary

My thinking is this. A father goes into the county court and registers the
birth of his son. A clerk charged with this task writes down the
information. A son goes into the monument carver and gives him the
particulars on his father for the gravestone. The carver, responsible for
his work, writes it down. Both are original sources.

In both cases the informant could misinform the recorder. In both cases the
recorder could make mistakes. In neither does this factor change the fact
that a record is being created.

So, shoot me full of holes>


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