Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Navigating Your Family Tree Using GPS

Whether you are an experienced researcher or a beginning genealogist, it is critical to follow the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

Elissa Scalise Powell states, “Proof is a fundamental concept in genealogy.”  To achieve GPS in your genealogy research Ms. Powell states you need to follow these basic guidelines and conduct:

·      A reasonably exhaustive search;
·      Complete and accurate source citations;
·      Analysis and correlation of the collected information;
·      Resolution of any conflicting evidence; and
·      A soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

Ms. Powell led her NERGC audience through one of her more challenging research cases using GPS. She said, “all records lie!” She showed us how to resolve conflicting evidence and how conclusions should reflect all conflicting data so your reader will better understand how and why you reached your conclusions.  The process, she repeated, is to do a reasonably exhaustive search.

Ms. Powell has developed her own worksheet to keep track of her research. She also advises researchers to work collateral lines and test conflicting data. Use a timeline if that would be helpful. And, of course, use complete and accurate source citations to show the veracity of your sources.

Two publications helpful for conducting research and preparing a coherently written conclusion are:

Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2 ed., Elizabeth Shown Mills.

The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Board for Certification of Genealogists, www.BCGcertification.org

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