canstockphoto16180022 downloaded 3 January 2015Now that you’ve spent some time analyzing your research findings, it’s time to correlate your evidence.

This is the most fun part!

You’ve probably been correlating your evidence all along without realizing it. Genealogy Standards #47 gives this description of evidence correlation: “Genealogists test their evidence by comparing and contrasting evidence items. They use such correlation to discover parallels, patterns, and inconsistencies, including points at which evidence items agree, conflict, or both.”1

Correlation may:

  • reveal if your information comes from a variety of informants or writers. (See Genealogy Standards #46: Evidence Independence.)
  • help you spot holes in your research.
  • reveal proof.

When you correlate a variety of evidence found in census, land, probate, etc., the details should fit together. When a piece of information does not fit, you need to try to resolve the conflict. (See, Genealogy Standards #48: Resolving evidence inconsistencies.)

Tools for correlation may include:

  • timelines
  • charts
  • tables
  • spreadsheets
  • maps
  • lists
  • a written narrative

Tables and timelines because it makes it easy to spot errors. For instance, it would reveal that the same man could not be in two different places at the same time. Maps are great for correlating the local friends and family, churches, and cemeteries. The written narrative is essential because that’s where holes in the argument often come to light.

To see an example of evidence correlation, check out Stefani Evans’ article, “Skillbuilding: Evidence Correlation.”2

Also, Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas W. Jones,3 is a great source to study again and again.

  1. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (New York, N.Y.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 27.
  2. Stefani Evans, “Skillbuilding: Evidence Correlation,” OnBoard 18 (September 2002).
  3. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).