For years, I found the differences between primary and secondary sources confusing. Add the fact that you can have original and derivative versions of both and that either can be negative or positive proof and it all sounds like mumble jumble to someone who isn’t used to them all. Luckily, the glossary within the Board for Certification of Genealogists “Geneology Standards” manual makes all the important distinctions very clear.
For example, on page 72, the glossary defines “primary information” as:
A report of an event or circumstance by an eyewitness or participant; the opposite of secondary information.
This is just one of many confusing nonfiction research terms that are clearly defined in very simple language. The chapters within this pithy guide cover how to plan and research a story. It also shows how to properly cite sources. Several pointers throughout the guide clarify some of the most challenging nonfiction research challenges.
If you want to document, research and write stories about ancestors’ experiences, the guide is a must-have. In my opinion, it’s equally useful for any obsessive nonfiction researcher and writer who wants to communicate carefully and accurately.
Board for Certification of Genealogists Genealogy Standards. Edited by Thomas W. Jones. Washington: Turner Publishing Company, 2014. ISBN 978-1-630-26018-7
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About the Author
Tracey Arial helps Canadians grow with notable nonfiction and urban agriculture.