ngs21At one point in time or another, every genealogist faces questionable sources and must determine whether to accept or reject these sources as accurate. The question arises, “can we not determine reliably which findings reflect the past?” Then, of course, if we do decide a source is acceptable, or credible, how do we prove this to others?

These are the questions for which Thomas Jones attempts to provide answers in his new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof. Better stated, perhaps, is to say in Jones’ new textbook. For this book is written in textbook style. Each chapter provides the critical learning followed by problems, which provide the reader a opportunity to practice ans set in memory the concepts shared within the chapter.

In 2000, the Board for Certification of Genealogists developed and produced the “Genealogical Proof of Standard,” a.k.a. GPS. This standard was an attempt to create a system for proof, pulling from the field of law and applying the best practices used by genealogists. The final product was a fifty-six point research standard.

Jones’ textbook pulls from the GPS, distilling its contents into an understandable and useable methodology any researcher, student, or newbie genealogist can use. The book teaches and guides the reader with easy to read chapters containing sixty-two real world exercises. The examples were pulled from the author’s own family’s genealogy and contain American, British, Germanic, and Irish roots. These examples demonstrate the use of this methodology across “diverse ethnicities and geographic origins.”

In the author’s own words:

“I wrote this book to help other genealogists understand in a reasonable time frame what decades of trail-and-error have taught me. I hope the text and exercises will save them from the embarrassing blunders and misconceptions I have experienced.”

About the Author

“Thomas Jones is a professor emeritus at Gallaudet University, where he designed and managed graduate programs, conducted research, and taught and mentored graduate students for twenty-seven years. He has co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2002 and is a trustee and a past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. He coordinates courses at the British Institute, Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh, Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy, and Samford University’s Institute on Genealogy and Historical Research; and he teaches in Boston University’s Genealogical Research Program.”

Table of Contents

Preface

Chapter 1: Genealogy’s Standard of Proof

  • What is genealogy?
  • Why a genealogical proof standard?
  • The Genealogical Proof Standard
  • Modern technologies and genealogical proof
  • Research and reasoning cycles
  • Using the GPS
  • Chapter 1 exercises

Chapter 2: Concepts Fundamental to the GPS

  • Research questions
  • Sources
    • Categories of genealogical sources
    • Importance of source distinctions
  • Information
    • Informants
    • Categories of genealogical information
    • Importance of information distinctions
  • Relationship of sources and information
  • Evidence
    • Categories of genealogical evidence
    • Importance of evidence distinctions
  • Relationship of sources and information to evidence
  • Chapter 2 exercises

Chapter 3: GPS Element 1: Thorough Research

  • What “reasonably exhaustive” means
  • Planning thorough research
  • Executing thorough research
  • Demonstrating research extent
  • Chapter 3 exercises

Chapter 4: GPS Element 2: Source Citations

  • Citation components
    • Five questions that citations answer
    • Physical sources viewed as images
    • Sequencing citation elements
  • Kinds of citations
    • Reference notes
    • Source lists
  • When and how to craft a citation
  • Resources for citing genealogical sources
  • Chapter 4 exercises

Chapter 5: GPS Element 3: Analysis and Correlation

  • Tests of analysis
    • Authored work or original or derivative record?
    • Primary, secondary, or indeterminable information?
    • Other tests of analysis
  • Tests of correlation
    • Prerequisite to correlation
    • Ways to correlate
  • When to analyze and correlate
  • Outcomes of analysis and correlation
    • Casting doubt
    • Resolve conflicts
    • Yield conclusions
  • Chapter 5 exercises

Chapter 6: GPS Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence

  • How evidence conflicts
  • Resolving conflicting evidence
    • Reasoning
    • Explaining conflict resolutions
  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Assembling evidence to establish a conclusion
  • Chapter 6 exercises

Chapter 7: GPS Element 5: The Written Conclusion

  • Proof statements
  • Proof summaries
  • Proof arguments
    • Differences between proof arguments and proof summaries
    • Divisions within proof arguments
    • Developing the argument
  • Clear writing
  • Chapter 7 exercises

Chapter 8 Using the GPS

  • Chapter 8 exercises

Chapter 9 Conclusion

Appendix A Pritchett Article

Appendix B McLain Article

Glossary

Reading and Source List

Answers to exercises

  • Chapter 1 exercise answers
  • Chapter 2 exercise answers
  • Chapter 3 exercise answers
  • Chapter 4 exercise answers
  • Chapter 5 exercise answers
  • Chapter 6 exercise answers
  • Chapter 7 exercise answers
  • Chapter 8 exercise answers

 

List of Tables

  • Table 1 Suggestions for Identifying Sources to Answer Genealogical Questions
  • Table 2 Selected Guides Describing American Genealogical Sources
  • Table 3 Long-Form and Short-Form Reference-Note Citations to the Same Source
  • Table 4 Selected Documented Examples of Errors in High-Quality Sources
  • Table 5 Correlation in a Narrative and a List
  • Table 6 Timeline Separating the Identities of Men Named John Geddes in the Same Irish Parish
  • Table 7 A Table Correlating Sources, Information, and Evidence
  • Table 8 Seven Related Proof Statements in Context

List of Figures

  • Figure 1 Who-What-When-Where-Where Elements in Four Citations to Published Sources
  • Figure 2 Who-What-When-Where-Where Elements in Four Citations to Unpublished Sources
  • Figure 3 Who-What-When-Where-Where Elements in Citations to Published Sources Viewed in Published and Unpublished Media
  • Figure 4 Who-What-When-Where-Where Elements in Citations to Unpublished Sources Viewed in Published and Unpublished Media
  • Figure 5 Map Correlating Evidence from Ten Deeds, a Chancery Case, and a Land Grant to Help Prove a Relationship
  • Figure 6 Illustration and Analysis of an Explanation of the Resolution of Conflicting Evidence

 

Order your own copy of Mastering Genealogical Proof from Family Roots Publishing; Price: $24.45.