Most of us have an ancestor who, for various reasons, is difficult to “prove.” Such a case can be about a person for whom key records are missing or were never created, or it may involve several people in the same locality with identical names and similar ages.
At one time, genealogists borrowed the concept of preponderance of evidence from the legal profession as a means of proving relationships in such cases. That concept fell out of favor in the genealogical community in the late 1990s. The Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) became the model for proving a relationship in the absence of clear, direct evidence. GPS consists of five components: thorough research, informative citations, analysis and comparison, conflict resolution, and a written supportive narrative.
The challenge then was how to become proficient in applying GPS? In May of this year, a workbook by Thomas W. Jones was introduced to directly meet this challenge. In announcing publication of Mastering Genealogical Proof, the National Genealogical Society stated:
Mastering Genealogical Proof aims to help researchers, students, and new family historians reconstruct relationships and lives of people they cannot see. It presents content in digestible chunks. Each chapter concludes with problems providing practice for proficiently applying the chapter’s concepts. Those problems, like examples throughout the book, use real records, real research, and real issues. Answers are at the back of the book along with a glossary of technical terms and an extensive resource list.
Thomas W. Jones, who has pursued his family history since he was fifteen, is an award-winning genealogical researcher, writer, editor, and educator.
The Genealogical Committee is bringing Dr. Jones to WRHS on 29 Mar 2014 for an all-day seminar with the theme “Establishing Genealogical Proof.” Here is the schedule of his presentations:
9:00 – 10:00 – What is the Standard of Proof in Genealogy?
Learn about the Genealogical Proof Standard, its five elements, and how each element contributes to convincing proof. Examples will demonstrate the standard’s application to simple and complex situations that genealogists frequently encounter. It will answer the question, “How much evidence is enough for proof?”
10:30 – 11:30 – Using “Correlation” to Reveal Facts that No Record States
Through explanation and examples, learn why, and how, to compare and contrast genealogical evidence and information to reveal a variety of genealogical “facts.”
1:30 – 2:30 – When Source Don’t Agree, then What?
See why genealogical sources can disagree and how to detect the “truth.” Also discover three ways to resolve conflicting genealogical evidence and how to present the resolution in a polished genealogical product.
3:00 – 4:00 – Can a Complex Research Problem be Solved Solely Online?
Step by step, attendees will suggest online sources and research strategies for tracing an ancestor who seems to disappear and reappear. The interactive case study will show both how such cases can be solved online and the limits of material online today.
Dr. Jones is editor of the NGS Quarterly, Board for Certification of Genealogists trustee and past president, and former Association of Professional Genealogists trustee. A professor of education at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., he is a genealogical educator who speaks and writes frequently on genealogical evidence, proof, and problem solving.
Here are the contents of Mastering Genealogical Proof:
Chapter 1 – Genealogy’s Standard of Proof
Chapter 2 – Concepts Fundamental to the GPS
Chapter 3 – GPS Element 1: Thorough Research
Chapter 4 GPS Element 2: Source Citations
Chapter 5 GPS Element 3: Analysis and Correlation
Chapter 6 GPS Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence
Chapter 7 GPS Element 5: The Written Conclusion
Chapter 8 – Using the GPS
Chapter 9 – Conclusion
Appendix A – Pritchett Article
Appendix B – McLain Article
Mark your calendar now and watch the WRHS website WRHS for details about online registration.
Mastering Genealogical Proof is available from the publishers, the National Genealogical Society, at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof as well as from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/. It also will be available for sale at the seminar.