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Primary Record Sources

Primary records are the best, and normally the most reliable source of all genealogical data.  These records were created contemporaneously with the events they record.  Foremost among these are the baptisms, marriages, and burials in the parish (church) records, and the births, marriages, and deaths registered by the civil authorities.  Also of great utility are the census records and other sorts of official lists, as well as wills and deeds relating to property

Keep in mind that official records were produced and organized for reasons other than family history research and that they are not always correct.  For example, census returns and vital records were the basis for taxing, legal, sociological and statistical purposes.  Although the clerks may have recorded data presented to them, they had no means of proving the accuracy of the information given to them.  Mistakes in government records do exist, but overall, data from primary sources is considered reliable because it was created by officials in their regular course of business, was kept in the possession of those offices, and reflects information that one would logically expect to find there.