I have mentioned that I assumed the role of family genealogist from my mother in the Preface and that she worked with paper. When I moved the process into the digital age and began using some genealogy software I initially found the idea of documenting sources to be a bit of a curiosity.
The design of the software and what I was beginning to read about genealogy on the Internet placed a lot of importance on documenting each source of information for some reason. I assumed that my mother had only collected correct information and hadn't recorded where she found her information, and as my thinking went, why bother asking where things came from since all the information collected so far was correct anyway?
You can read more about my experience with computer software in Genealogy Software.
As I worked collecting new information I began to encounter information on existing 'correct' ancestors that differed from what my mother had previously collected. As it was different I just assumed it was probably wrong and ignored it. But sometimes I would uncover that same 'wrong' information again and again and I was forced to reconcile that maybe the 'correct' information my mother gathered wasn't always correct. The lightbulb went on.
Nothing is right. Nothing is Wrong.
From that point on I moved forward and just documented information and cited the source without weighing my thoughts on how correct it might be. After doing this for a while you can often begin to see the truth based on how many sources agree. They are like votes.
I have interviewed mothers who incorrectly remembered the birthdays of their own children, grandparents who can't spell their grandchildren's names and siblings who disagree on facts about their own parents. In short, people are often the best sources but they aren't always correct. Collect the information and move on. With enough sources the maybe one day the truth will be clear.
Among the thousands of sources I have found, here are some of the Family History Collections I can credit with being most valuable.