Evidence Analysis Issues

Reliability of Vital Records That Aren't Quite Right...

Okay, here's a nice "nuance-y" question.  

It is generally accepted that a birth certificate contains primary information given by the parents at the time of the birth, and a marriage certificate contains primary information given by the bride and groom, so both documents are considered reliable.

But what if the information on the documents is actually a little fuzzier than that?  

Example (and let's assume for simplicity that both of these documents definitely refer to the correct people):

Advice needed for referencing clusters

I'm looking for any advice on referencing clusters (or groups) of people when assembling units of evidence into a write-up. I need a convenient and meaningful reference system because of the large number of group references in this case.

I'm working on a huge problem to prove the identity of a single lady, but it has required me to use a cluster approach to piece together different families, and their generational relationships, from the groups described by the different sources.

Gaps in children: negative or indirect evidence of missing children?

Are gaps like 5-7 years in known children negative evidence or indirect evidence that there could be a missing child? Please explain. I think it fits the definition of negative evidence, but an associate of mine suggested it is indirect evidence.

Place name spelling variations

When you are writing a case study or report and you come across a spelling variation for a  place name should you try and find a reference that lists the specific variation and then cite that source? 

I am assuming some variations are obvious and don't need a citation while others may not be so obvious and may require a reference. I am just not sure about when something is obvious. Just because it is obvious to me doesn't mean it is obvious to someone else!

Can Microfilm Be Modified In A Way That Is Not Obvious?

Hi, I don't know much of anything about microfilm. I'm guessing the answer to the question in the subject is no but wanted to find out more about it. I am not speaking of originals that have been modified and then microfilmed (that has been ruled out in this case) but rather the modification of the finished microfilm itself. This would also include not obvious ways of inserting a new, modified picture onto an existing roll of microfilm that is derived from the unmodified microfilm picture that was removed from the reel (if any of those sort of ways even exist).

Conflicting Birthdates in Original Sources

Hi Elizabeth,

I've never been quite sure how to address conflicting birthdates in original sources that contain primary information, specifically, the great number of WW1 and WW2 draft cards that do not contain matching birthdates. I am aware of the reasons why someone may purposely change the date, but the numbers of men I have seems very large. I have many more that do not match than those that do. These dates are sometimes different then the various census records for that person.