Quick tip – That index may not be complete

If you are using a genealogical database such as WieWasWie, beware that the record you are looking for may not be in the index. Either it may not exist (anymore, if ever), or it may not have been indexed yet.

Most indexes provide a table of contents that show which records have been included. If you don’t find the record you are looking for, check the contents to make sure that the record should be there.

  • If the record should be there, and you can’t find it despite searching for variations of the name, that may be negative evidence that the event happened in another time or place, never happened at all, or that the person used another name.
  • If the record is not included in the index, you cannot draw conclusions from the lack of results. What you have are negative findings, not negative evidence.
People looking up cards in the population register

Lookups in the population register. Credits: Charles Breijer, collection Nationaal Archief (CC-BY).

About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG® is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate certificate in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

Comments

  1. Virgil Hoftiezer says

    Thank you for the reminder of “negative findings, not negative evidence”. I must keep reminding myself that my many many negative findings are not negative evidence.
    If I may, I would like to quote you on this.

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