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01 January 2010

Secondary isn't all bad

Just remember a secondary source isn't necessarily wrong. In 1907 a widow testified as to who the siblings of her husband were. Did she know they were her husband's siblings because she had first hand knowledge of their parentage? No. She had been told. Did she have reason to doubt it? Probably not. Was she wrong? Not likely in this case. She was suing her husband's family and they stood to inherit some property. If she had provided an incomplete list of heirs, someone would have noticed. It's not 100% proof she was right, but any source needs to be kept in context. Secondary just means that she didn't have first hand knowledge of who her husband's siblings were.