generations. However, as the family history detective it’s important for you to provide a strong case for your research, to be able to provide proof of your theories and back up that proof with quality evidence.
How can you be sure your family tree is accurate? How can you know your sharing correct information with others? Today, we explore 5 steps to proving your family history. By employing these initiatives, you have the assurance you are not only adding the right ancestors to your tree but you can share your research with others confidently and accurately.
These aren’t any five steps; they are commonly known as Genealogical Proof Standard and are the foundation for professional genealogy research. GPS, as it is commonly referred to serves just as its name suggests - a clear set of steps, a path to your final destination – to prove your family history. It is not restricted to professionals and can be employed by beginner genealogists to ensure solid research techniques at every turn. Let’s take a look a the basics of GPS.
Step 1 - A reasonably exhaustive search.
What does this mean? It means you have examined a variety of quality sources which relate to a specific item. This item may be a relationship, an identity, or an event or activity. In attempting to prove that item you will do a ‘reasonably exhaustive search’ and by doing such you reduce the chances that new evidence may be uncovered at a later date that is likely to disprove your swift conclusion. This does not mean you have uncovered every piece of evidence necessary to prove the situation, only that you have gone to a rationale means.
Step 2 - A complete and accurate citation of the sources for each item used in proving an identify, event or relationship.
By documenting all of your sources you can stand behind your research with confidence and provide future researchers with the necessary sources to understand your conclusions. It provides them with the breadcrumbs to prove their own conclusions and understand your theory.
Step 3- Analysis of the collected information’s quality as evidence.
Essentially, step 3 is asking you to analyse the quality of your evidence. Is it original or derivative, primary or secondary source, direct or indirect? We must analyse which sources are probably correct and compare to those that are in conflict.
Step 4 - Resolution of any contradictory or conflicting evidence.
When you have conflicting evidence, proving a relationship or an identity can become difficult. Step 4 asks you to re-evaluate your evidence in relationship to your theory. Do major conflicts still exist; perhaps additional research is required to resolve your outstanding variances.
Step 5 - Write a conclusion supporting your hypothesis.
Genealogy Standards: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition by Board of Certification of Genealogists
Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose