This article is one in a series of session reports from the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. I tweeted the session live, but I hate to send you to Twitter to read them because they appear there in reverse chronological order. I’ve straightened them out for you here.
Friday, 31 July 2009
|Mark Tucker, "Navigating Research with the Genealogical Proof Standard." |
This synopsis is incredibly lacking compared to what you can access at Mark’s web site, http://www.thinkgenealogy.com/map
|His slides are posted on his blog: http://www.thinkgenealogy.com/map/ Go ahead and follow along! |
|Mark going through some history. He's to slide 6 (if you're following along).|
|Where do I start my research? What record to start with? He teaches boy scouts that knowing where you are prevents getting lost.|
|Implied GPS Step: Define research goals (slides 10-14). Illustrate the process with a case study: Worth Tucker's birth info.|
|Two important forms: Research Plan, Research Log.|
|GPS: Genealogical Proof Standard|
|Covering through slides 22, research plan.|
|Slide 32, picture of his sweetheart (which we all assume is his wife!).|
|GPS Step 1: Reasonably exhaustive search of reliable sources for pertinent info. |
|Source Provenance: The issue is, what are the better sources? Original source is better than derivative.|
|A derivative is better than the sources derived from it. Several sources of independent origin strengthens confidence.|
|Slide 39 introduces another important form. Research Analysis.|
|GPS Step 2: Collect a complete and accurate citation to each source of information that is used. |
|Recommends Mills' _Evidence Explained_. All the latest genealogy software supports templates matching this book.|
|Aside: EE is necessary because genealogists use a wide range of sources well beyond those in Chicago or Turabian.|
|Should there be one set of common citation guidelines? (slide 49)|
|GPS Step 3: Analyze the info to assess quality as evidence. |
|Slide 54: Sources can be original, derivative (goes into types of derivatives). |
I have a suggestion for Mark for this slide: Image copies should be adjacent to Original since they are usually more reliable than handwritten copies.
|Slide 55: Information can be primary or secondary.|
|Slide 56: Evidence can be direct, indirect, negative.|
|Sometimes derivatives can be treated as an original, such as photographic copies such as microfilm or digitized.|
|Primary information comes from those with first-hand knowledge. Review your sources, information, and evidence for types they are.|
|GPS Step 4: Resolve any conflicts/contradictions in the information. |
|See the excellent example of slide 79 showing conflicts in our case study of Worth Tucker's birth info.|
|GPS Step 5: We arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion |
|No conclusion is ever completely final.|
|One more suggestion for Mark: Include all the items from slide 83 in the case study example, slide 85. |
OK, I have another last suggestion. For the Worth Tucker case study, showing an example conclusion may be appropriate as a teaching vehicle, but it’s worth mentioning, as Janet Hovorka did in her presentation on Tuesday, that genealogists aren’t forced to a conclusion like a judge in a trial. If sufficient evidence does not yet exist to come to a conclusion, don’t.
This will really be the final one; honest. Another point Mills makes in EE is that the written conclusion can be extremely simple when the evidence is direct, non-conflicting, and compelling. I think when such evidence arises from near-original sources and primary information, that no formal written conclusion is necessary. Of course, you still need proper citations.
Remember that tweets are limited to 140 characters. Less the #byugen hashtag, each tweet could not exceed 132 characters. Hence, tweets often use abbreviations, bad grammar, and lack proper punctuation.