Whether you are just starting out or you are a seasoned researcher, sources are essential to good genealogy work.
When we list facts about a person that include items like: their name, birth date and place, marriage date and place, death date and place, these are conclusions. We draw our conclusions from various sources.
In the graphic above I explain that there are primary and secondary sources. A primary source is a record that is created at the time of an event with the information coming from someone with direct knowledge of that event. A secondary source is a record that is created after the event or by someone less closely associated with the event.
In the examples I list, there are some items that could be either primary or secondary depending on the circumstances surrounding the creation of the record. For example, a census record is listed as a primary source but if the census taker had to ask the neighbor for the info that moves it from a primary source to a secondary source in a hurry.
Primary sources are best. Be careful to understand what types of sources you are relying on when you draw your conclusions. Search for as many sources on each person as you can find. The more sources you use, the more accurate your conclusions will be.