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AfriGeneas Writers Forum

Evaluating Sources and Webpages

Greetings Afrigeneas Writers:

When we write about our ancestors and look for information about their contemporaries and the era in which they lived, we often use the internet as a research tool.

Primary resources provide the best documented information. Using a general search engine will point you to lists of primary historical resources on the web.

Secondary resources may also uncover needed information. These resources, as you know, can be scholarly articles, books or journals written by recognized authorities. However they can also be written by people with a bias or contain sloppy and inaccurate information or unsubstantiated "facts."

The challenge for writers of African American history is interpreting facts with historical accuracy. Anything less than a truthful narrative is a disservice to the memory our family's
legacy. Anything less than a truthful narrative opens the door to deniers of our family's history.

A general rule of thumb is that University archives, subscription services (genealogical) and government sponsored web pages are the most accurate...BUT not always. Commercial subscription services in their rush to capture the ever-growing genealogical market sometimes publish shabby and inaccurate materials.

The link below will help to evaluate the sources on the web. It's a checklist that asks who or what is:

A) The authority
B) The purpose
C) How current
D) The author's objectivity v. bias
E) The support documentation

For example, the Duke University discusses the validity of the author:

"What are the author's credentials?

Look for biographical information or the author's affiliations (university department, organization, corporate title, etc.)."

Regards,

Write Away


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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