Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Law & Order: Research vs. Proof in Genealogy

Lawandorder01.jpgAs I mentioned in my last blog entry Book/Study Group: Mastering Genealogical Proof, I have been participating in a Google Plus study group for Dr. Thomas Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof.  We have been having interesting discussions and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts with you here.

In chapter 1, Dr. Jones lays out what he calls a “Research and Reasoning Cycle” for genealogy.  In this cycle, he states that research and proof are distinct elements and that analysis and proof is something that is done after the research is completed.  This caused a bit of discussion as most people feel that they do the analysis and proof while they are doing the research.  In fact, it is this very analysis that helps guide the research (where should I look next?). 

I don’t think Dr. Jones’ means to dissuade anyone from thinking through their hypotheses while they research. I don’t think he was referring to that type of analysis.  I think his approach is more like an episode of Law & Order.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Book/Study Group: Mastering Genealogical Proof

imageThe National Genealogical Society (NGS) has published a new book on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).  It is entitled Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Dr. Thomas Jones.  I ordered a copy as soon as it was published and gave it a quick read through.  I have to say that I’m impressed.  Dr. Jones’ style is very approachable and he does a nice job of explaining items that cause no end of confusion to genealogists, amateur and professional alike.  If you want to get a copy (and I do recommend that you do), you can order it at the NGS website.

This topic is so fundamental and important for genealogy that several study groups have been organized to work through the book in a course-like fashion.  They vary from live online sessions to asynchronous discussion forums. You can get into one of these, for free, and do a thorough study and discussion of the book. Details on on how to get in to the groups are posted on  Angela Packer McGhie’s blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education back in April.  In early June, I registered for one of the groups and we have just started meeting online in Google+.  We will be doing a chapter every two weeks throughout the summer.

Some of the topics we will be covering are fairly confusing and contentious, so I’ll no doubt hop on my soapbox from time to time to either voice an opinion or share my epiphanies.

Hopefully I’ll also find some time to get back to my research!