Are your sources for real?

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr. at P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.

Sources that you use to prove your genealogy research need to be true primary sources, those based on the strongest original evidence.

Secondary sources, written later than the actual event, may guide us to an earlier, more accurate source, but many can be wrong — turning out to be conjecture, family hearsay or just plain made up. Documents cited as evidence, such as a death certificate, are often wrong because the informant either was not thinking clearly, didn’t know for a fact what they were saying, or perhaps the information was garbled.

So, when using a source, you should ask yourself: Was this written at the time of the event (such as a marriage record at the courthouse), was it recorded years later by a family member (like in a family Bible), or did it appear on the Internet in someone’s family tree without any source at all? Can you prove it by some other means, such as an estate record?

If you use a website as a citation, you should list the date you accessed that site, and I would suggest also capturing what you found and saving it (or printing it out) so you have a copy. You cannot be too careful with your sources.

Southeastern Indians

Jim Langford will speak on the history and culture of Southeastern Indians at the DeKalb History Center’s Lunch and Learn lecture at noon March 17 at the Old Courthouse on the square in Decatur. It’s free; bring your own lunch.

Langford is president of the Coosawattee Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1987 to promote conservation of American Indian occupation sites and related lands.

For more information, check dekalbhistory.org or call 404-373-1088, Ext. 23. The center's archives is open by appointment at that phone number.

Genealogy Expo

A Genealogy Expo will be held March 14 at the Hart County Adult Learning Center, next to the public library at 150 Benson St., Hartwell. Hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Robert C. Jones will speak on the end of the Civil War in northeast Georgia. There will be booths representing various genealogy and other organizations with information on how to join, and lots of information about how to research your family history.

The expo is free. For further information, contact Brenda Harbin at brharbin@hartcom.net or the Savannah River Valley Genealogical Society at facebook.com/groups/280232182096462. The event was well attended last year and should draw a good crowd.