Friday, October 22, 2010

Genealogical Maturity Model

The Genealogical Maturity Model is a framework for personal growth
The Genealogical Maturity Model is a
framework for personal growth.
© 1971. All rights reserved.

This is a “table of contents” article to a previously published series of articles.

Want to be a better genealogist? The central skill needed by every genealogist is the ability to produce verifiably correct genealogists. I call that “Genealogical Maturity.” I developed the Genealogical Maturity Model as an easy way to grade your own maturity and to create small, attainable goals for improvement.

Let me be clear. I am no expert in this regard. I have based the model as nearly as I can on broadly acknowledged best practices published in BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Helen F. M. Leary, editor; Evidence Explained, Elizabeth Shown Mills; and Genealogical Proof Standard, Christine Rose. Anything in the model that is correct you can attribute to these experts. Anything incorrect is... well... me.

To begin, read “Rate Your Genealogical Maturity.” Fill in the self-assessment inventory. If you have questions about the definitions of words, consult “Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM) Definitions.”

After completing the inventory, go back and review the categories. Pick one category to work on. Read the description of the next level. Make that your goal. Don’t try and work on all categories at once. Baby steps. Don’t try to skip levels. Baby steps. Commit to yourself and focus your efforts on that one, little goal.

Once you’ve accomplished that goal, come back and pick another area for improvement.

For a while I considered developing a genealogical maturity model for software programs. I put that on hold after an ad hoc attempt at assigning a maturity to the new FamilySearch Tree. Read the overly critical appraisal at the end of “Vault Vednesday: Last Day to Pre-register.”

In addition to the sources previously noted, I would like to acknowledge the many contributions from my many knowledgeable readers. Some came directly by email, but many can be read online in the comments at the end of each of these articles:

Thank you, again.


  1. Very well expressed. It has long been an interest of mine, too. In fact, I developed a series of presentations entitled "The Seven Stages of Genealogy Growth," which describe in detail how many of us progress within our favourite obsession.

    Happy Dae·

  2. As always, fabulous reading AI. Thanks for giving us the summary here. This should be required reading for any genealogical organization, company or any person logging into a genealogy website. Now I have somewhere to direct people. Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the post and thanks for directing me to it Janet Hovorka. :)

  3. I would read this if I could find it.

    Read the overly critical appraisal at the end of “Vault Vednesday: Last Day to Pre-register.”

  4. The true test of a determined genealogy researcher is perseverance.

    As a librarian with a specialty in genealogical research, I can tell you that most of my clients/patrons/customers have been sweet people (who are well-past retirement age) -- who suddenly got the idea to work up a family tree because no one else in the family was doing it. Some of these folks are well-educated; some are people who just happened to stumble upon some postings in a family Bible, and want to know how to make sense of them.

    Over the past 30-some-odd years, I have led dozens of folks through the first "baby footsteps" of family history research. Some of them have kept in touch with me for years. Others, when I have been talking to them, have gotten this glassy look in their eyes, and I have never heard from them again. I wish them all the best of luck.


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