Source Surety Levels

Sherbondy Family Association


Surety levels are used to identify how reliable a particular source is.  Sources which were created closest to the date that an event occurred are more reliable than sources created later.  The highest level of surety in our system is 3.  Next is level 2 and is the most used and is for most information coming from personal knowledge of Sherbondy descendants.  Level 1 is given to information that is probably a guess or is from distant relatives.  Level 0 is for information that is likely incorrect.  Level negative (-) is given to information that has been proven incorrect.  Default surety levels (generally 2 or 3) appear on the List of Sources Reports.  The default levels are used in citations for the primary information from the source (like death and burial information from a death certificate).   Lower level sureties are used for secondary information from the source (like birth and parent information from a death certificate).


Here are some examples of sources and the levels that can be assigned to them:


Surety Level 3:

·         Birth Certificate

·         Marriage Certificate

·         Death Certificate

·         Census Record

·         Deed

·         Military or Pension Record

·         Cemetery Record

·         Obituary when other more reliable sources do not exist

·         Compiled records when sources are cited in detail

·         Family Records written over 60 years ago when other reliable sources do not exist


Surety Level 2:

·         Letter, data sheet, information from descendants

·         Compiled records when sources are not cited

·         Sources normally level 3 that have discrepancies with other level 3 sources


Surety Level 1:

·         A level 2 or level 3 source which had discrepancies with multiple other level 2 or 3 sources

·         Sources where significant amounts of information are missing or incomplete

·         Sources where other information from the same source has been proven incorrect

·         Sources which have admitted it was a guess or assumption


Surety Level 0:

·         Sources or information that is most likely incorrect due to a preponderance of evidence and other sources indicating that it is incorrect


Surety Level – (negative sign):

·         Sources proven incorrect due to overwhelming evidence to the contrary



Some events from a particular source may be less reliable that other events from the same source.  For example, the birth information from a census record has lower reliability than the residence information from that same census record.  Surety levels are also assigned to the dates, locations, memos and people with each source citation.  These are used to identify the level of accuracy and/or reliability of the particular dates, places and memos coming from this particular source.  For various reasons, a place of an event may have a different reliability than the date for the same event. For discussions at this level of detail, please contact Jeffrey D. Sherbondy directly.