The Genealogical Proof Standard

Whether you are a professional or a budding Genealogist you want to start out with the Genealogical Proof Standard when researching your or someone elses family tree.

EVIDENCE EXPLAINED is the book most people refer to and will better give examples of what I am about to explain. Here is the link to purchase the book if you choose to.

What is the Genealogical Proof Standard, or the GPS as most people refer it too? That a good question. I will explain it in Lamens Terms so that you can better understand.

It is the system to measure ” the plausibility ” of a Genealogical Conclusion. Or in lamens terms so everyone can understand it is

” Its the standard to judge the proof to your Genealogical Conclusion. ”

There are 5 Main Points to the Genealogical Proof Standard and they are all pretty straight forward and easy to understand, but just in case I will explain it… I KNOW .. all this can get tricky at times.. and I too have to go back and say .. ” WHAT THE HECK” sometimes.. ( I would curse.. lol but want to be a lady… so i will not .. )

  • You have ” Reasonably exhaustive ” Research. So basically you have looked in all the possible places that have some sort of documentation or record that relates to the genealogical question that you have. Its basically saying that if you have not explored every possible avenue you can not come to a ” Genealogical Conclusion ” yet.

  • You have ” Complete and Accurate Source Citation ” This means that where you are getting your information from a nd where your sources are coming from. Basically it means , if someone else is going to do the research what you did, when you or someone goes back and does the same research that you did to recheck it, you should be able to easily locate the sources you used to prove whatever your conclusions you came up with.

  • You want to ” Test your Evidence ” through through analysis and correlation. One way to look at it is to think of it as you want to actively try and disprove your argument or evidence, as its the best way to ” find any holes in what you may be researching “. You want to Analyze each document. You want to look at every bit of it, understanding the history and the context of the documents, who wrote the documents and where is this information coming from. You want to make sure the document is trustworthy. You want to make sure through exhaustive research and you want to make sure that you find matching documents in some sort of way . E.g. If you find you want to prove someone is the same person through two documents with the same signature that’s a matter of correlation. If you want to prove someone is the same person through an address that is another way to correlate. By Correlationg your different sources you are helping to strengthen whatever proof you have to whatever conclusion you come to.

  • You want to Resolve your Conflicting Evidence you have or called ” Resolution of Conflicting Evidence ” It is very common to find different pieces of information in different documents for the same person. Common examples of this are Birth days, ages. For many years people did not document things correctly and transcriptions of this was not recorded well. Another example is that most immigrants who came to the USA for example, where from Europe and in Europe we listed our dates Day/Month/ Year and not Month/Day/ Year the way we would find in the USA, so when people transcribed information if could be taken differently in this regard. But when you find pieces of conflicting evidence you need to ” Resolve the Problem ” and you need to figure out ” Why are they conflicting ? ” It can sometimes be the consistence of the document. For Example in a census record. If the neighbor is giving the ages, he or she might know a general age. They might be 50, but there neighbor who you talk to might have thought they were 43 instead. So, you will have a conflicting piece of Evidence with everything else you have gathered to be true.

  • Coming to a ” Well Reasoned Conclusion ” this means to be able to explain how you are coming to the conclusion that you have come up with using the evidence you have available. This has to be a conclusion that something that someone would be able to understand in lamens terms and something that makes sense.