Sources & Citations Series – Genealogical Proof Standard & One-Name Studies

Sources & Citations SeriesSometime ago I promised to write a post about Genealogical Proof Standard. I cannot recall, if I indeed did write the post or if I added it to my never-ending to do list, but thought that I would write this post as it fits into this current series.

The genealogical proof standard has essentially five elements to it –

a) Reasonably exhaustive research has been conducted.
b) Each statement of fact has a complete and accurate source citation.
c) The evidence is reliable and has been skill-fully correlated and interpreted.
d) Any contradictory evidence has been resolved.
e) The conclusion has been soundly reasoned and coherently written

It is much easier to follow this standard if undertaking reconstruction of families. I follow the same process as my personal genealogy, only entering material into my database when I am sure that the facts are pertaining to the specific individual.

I hand draw out trees, just on scrap paper or in my notebook, it helps me think and I always date the tree and always note if this is because I have material to confirm the tree or if the tree is based upon a hypothetical basis. At the same time as drawing a tree I am able to construct my to do list, identifying what information I need to locate.

Ultimately, the purpose of the genealogical proof standard is a way of confirming if the evidence we have relating to a particular person, is indeed correct and can you justify your thinking and conclusion with evidence.

I have already shared several examples when primary source material can be incorrect – here and here.

The same applies to Secondary Source material, which can include Oral history. In the coming weeks, when this series finishes I will write more in depth about Oral history, the importance and pit falls of it, but for now I will give you a few tips about documenting oral history.

  1. Document who you were speaking with (include other identifying information if you have two individuals with the same name)
  2. Date when the conversation took place
  3. Record what they said, either word for word if you are able or a summary of it.
  4. Write legibly – oral history will be lost over time, as earlier generations pass away. It would be a shame if those recollections were lost because you cannot decipher your own handwriting!
  5. Set about reviewing the information – how can you prove it’s accuracy?

I have some great examples of the above and I will be sharing them in the next series along with other useful information.

References for Genealogical Proof Standard:

  • Genealogical Proof Standard by Thomas W. Jones
  • Genealogical Standards (50th Anniversary edition) by Board for Certification of Genealogists
  • Webinars by the Board of Certification of Genealogists, hosted by Legacy Webinars (you may need to have access to a subscription)
  • Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn
  • Mastering Genealogical Documentation by Thomas Jones
  • Standards & Good Practice – Society of Genealogists (London England)
  • National Genealogical Society (NGS), US organisation – NGS Guidelines

All the books listed above, with the exception of the one by Helen Osborn are written from a US perspective, but that should not dissuade you from considering to purchase. I own the two by Jones in Kindle format and the Osborn book in both Kindle and hanrback. The Society of Genealogists and NGS have some material available freely accessible.

Disclaimer – I have not financially benefited from naming nor recommending these books. I purchased the books myself and all comments and opinions are my own.

I will be back tomorrow as the series continues.

About Julie Goucher

Genealogist, Author, Presenter, native Guildfordian, avid note taker and journal writer. Lover of Books, Stationery & History; Surnames, Butcher & Orlando One-Name Studies. Pharos Tutor for all One-Name Studies/surname courses as well as Researching Ancestors from Continental Europe.
This entry was posted in Genealogy, Introduction to One-Name Studies (Pharos course 901), Mastering Genealogical Proof, One-Name Studies, One-Place Studies, Sources & Citations Series. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Sources & Citations Series – Genealogical Proof Standard & One-Name Studies

  1. Pingback: When a simple blog post becomes a research project… – writing my past

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