Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
A record as used in genealogy refers to a written account of an event or transaction that can serve as legal evidence, acceptable proof, or knowledge of facts or events. The word "record" means "to remember," "to recollect," "recite," or "learn by heart." Indeed, in the earliest times, records were learned by heart and passed down from one generation to the next through the oral tradition. Today, records must be legally binding, providing the documentation needed to prove major life events, property ownership, and other important actions and transactions.
In addition to the lives of people, the world of genealogy is all about records. Records are needed to single out one individual or family from another, and to verify facts such as vital records, evidence of birth, marriage, death; property ownership; wills and probate; adoption; etc. Many types of records exist, some are considered primary source and some considered secondary source documents. When records are in error of when records conflict is often necessary used combined records to verify information.