This third and final installment in the evidence analysis series considers the concept of genealogical “Evidence” and then overviews the Genealogical Proof Standard which allows for defensible conclusions in genealogy. The purpose of genealogy is to reach defensible conclusions about our ancestors. This is done through proper analysis of the evidence. When we consider the sources, the information, and the evidence we can reach conclusions which are reliable.Evidence Analysis in GenealogyWhen the sources have been gathered and the information examined, it must be determined what type of evidence has been accumulated pertaining to the research problem. Evidence is the researcher’s interpretation of pertinent information and sources. This evaluation of the information as a whole in relation to the research problem is how conclusions are formed and advances made in family history. There are three types of evidence: 1) Direct, 2) Indirect, and 3) Negative. The categories of evidence …Read more
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This post is the second in a three-part series focusing on the concepts of evidence analysis as used in genealogy. The first post provided an overview of the evidence analysis process and discussed the concept of sources. This post picks up with evaluating genealogy information, which is the second category in the process.Understanding the Types of Genealogy InformationAfter the source (the document itself) has been examined, the next category to consider is “Information.” Information is the data recorded on the source. Information must be analyzed because errors – both intentional and unintentional – occur and those errors must be reconciled to arrive at the best answer available for a research question. Again, this category is subdivided three ways: 1) Primary, 2) Secondary, and 3) Undetermined. The definitions for these types of information are:Questions for Evaluating Genealogy InformationAs in our previous article, Evidence Analysis Explained: Digging Into …Read more
This article is the first in a three-part series that explores evidence analysis concepts through easy-to-understand definitions, probing questions to be utilized while researching, and real-world examples to illustrate the concepts that will help you analyze genealogical evidence like a pro! What does a genealogist do, anyways?When I talk with those unfamiliar with genealogical research, they are often surprised by all that goes into what we do as professional genealogists. Rather than simply “looking up” family trees online, our work is characterized by the thorough, detailed, and careful examination of historical documents in relation to a specific research problem. These documents are located through databases, research libraries, and archival facilities (in all shapes and forms) from across the world.As professional genealogists, we understand that thorough genealogical research includes properly analyzing the evidence to draw research conclusions. When evidence analysis …Read more
We frequently have clients contact us wanting to know, "How do I prove a family legend is true (or untrue)?". In this article, we highlight research that was completed to find out whether the family legend of an ancestor serving in the American Revolutionary War is fact or fiction. Many of us want to learn about our ancestors’ lives, and this is a key motivator for completing family history. Yet some people also want to know what role their ancestors played in history, and if certain noteworthy events occurred in their lives, or perhaps even a royal connection exists. In fact, many of our clients come to us with oral family history stories – what some call “family legends” – and seek our help in proving or disproving these stories.Recently one of our clients found herself in that same situation. She wanted to determine if her ancestor, Samuel Megginson, had truly served in the American Revolutionary War. I’ll review her particular case to illustrate how to approach proving or …Read more