My Chapter One Homework Assignment
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof ]
“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group. Thank you for allowing me to participate.
Genealogy is a multidisciplinary field of research accurately reconstructing unknown family from present day, you, to your ancestors of long ago. Is it curiosity or a need to know type of study? I think it is both.
I have always approached Genealogy like a medical case you want to know the answers to. We are always asking patients what health issues did their mother, father, their grandparents have to help find and hopefully prevent any disease developing. We strive for as much accuracy in the diagnosing and assessing them as can be achieved through test and interviews compiling a “reasonably exhaustive” search until you feel you have answered your question. If a hospitalization is needed we want to know their religion, so that we can provided for their spiritual, as well as, their physical needs.
Sometimes they don’t know the medical history. It maybe because of an adoption, you not the biological child of the father or mother because of an extramarital affair; more likely because the family didn’t discuss those things. My mother also said she cared for her sick mom who had muscle weakness, her father always complained of Angina. My Dad always complained of a tummy upset. Fortunately when I entered the medical field, at the tender age of sixteen, my parents gave me a little more information about themselves. Neither of them know what their parents or grandparents diseases were. That is how I started my family research; looking through old records and family documents to find the answers.
Dr. Jones mentions the importance of following the five Genealogy Proof Standards that “prove’ the family relationships to the best of your knowledge. The need to have guidelines to follow when researching and accurately providing a written synopsis of those finding for future generation to build on. Just like in the medical field needing standards or guidelines, so everyone is on the same page at least when they start. We may approach it in different ways to get the answers; yet we strive for “accuracy and consistency” in all we do.
He talks about a “reasonably exhaustive” search to answer our research questions. In medicine we are looking for a reason for the illness. In genealogy we are looking for our ancestors. Both are broad based statements that need to be narrowed done to one question at a time. I consider the “reasonably exhaustive” part is like our C.E.U’s (Continuing Educational Credits,) in our professional fields. You use what knowledge base you have until more up to date information or research is found. Researching your family is an ongoing investigation of who we are and where we came from. You make a supported conclusion of the family relationship and keep that as your evidence until some updated file proves otherwise. I think Michael Hait from the panel of the MGP Study Group says it best; “I reasonably exhaustive search is when you have enough evidence proving your conclusion” In other words answering your original question to your satisfaction.
In the medical field we record “complete and accurate” citation of our findings through, blood work, CT scans, medical history, ultrasound or whatever test is required to reach the end results. We record each step and test done. That same care is needed when researching our family. Where did you find that cause of death, their birth date, marriage date, etc.? Can you go back and find it now these many years later with what you recorded nine or more years ago? We go back generations when researching our ancestors, if we do not record the repository, book, family Bible, birth certificate, marriage or death certificate and where it was found we have not supported or provided “proof” of our research.
Dr. Jones goes on to speak about the “correlation’” of the information gathered. It is like the telephone game we played as children, one person tells you something, you pass it on, they pass it on and by the time it comes back to you it is a totally different story. The same happens with family medical or social interactions. What one sibling or spouse tells you of the medical history does not agree other the other. It is time to gather all known and told facts and compare them to what records you have. Then and only then can you move on to the Resolution of any conflicts in the information provided.
Finally all of that needs to be recorded accurately with a written supporting synopsis of evidence and documentation of your research sources. Just like the medical field does with each patients diagnosis. I use the S.O.A.P method when writing my supporting evidence, along with the O.L.D. C.H.A.RT. assessing tools. I don’t remember which medical book or teacher/s taught me this year ago, for that I apologize. I used these methods in my daily life for whatever analysis I need done personally or professionally. Thank Stanley Plodsnick, my nursing professor, way back when, for your quote “Don’t Assume anything, it makes and ASS/U/ME.” I saw that posted on the chalkboard for weeks and still remember it to today.
Subjective What you have been told Family Traditions/Specific question needs answering
Objective What you observed/see Family records/BDM certificates/Census/other documents
Assessment Gather and compare all evidence pertinent to answering your chief question
Plan How are you going to find the answers for the blank information to your chief question?
A need to revisit the same problem from a different view may elicit more information before you put it out there for peer review. That is where the “old chart” methods comes in.
Onset of the Event BDM(birth, death, marriage), finding a photograph, illness
Location Residence/where they lived
Duration How long there
CHaracter/CHronology Quality/support strong or weak/does progression make sense/ residence in same area/ if at a distance does it show how they came to be there
Alleviating/Aggravating factor one piece of information doesn’t agree with anything else/Can it be proved/resolved
Radiation F.A.N. club (Family/Associates/Neighbors) is Elizabeth Shown Mills of Evidence Explained fame, way of saying to search further than the single person/increase your range of search to you side family lines/work mates/ those you live in your neighborhood
Temporal pattern/Treatment Daily routine/ seek a different view/ same search gives the same results/look from another angle
Severity Strong Evidence and written conclusion supported with documentation
What I would do if someone wants me to remove supporting documents. I would tell them the same thing I told my nursing supervisor when she told me my notes were too long. “If I did it, I record it.” That is how I was taught and that is how I will continue. (PS when the OSHA review came through my notes saved their collective you know what.) Ever since then I stand by my method until I can be shown a better way.
Partial Genealogy conclusion are like partial medical conclusion; a misdiagnosis happens. Do you want to find out too late that you family has a history of cardiac disease when you thought there was none because you were following the wrong family? I think not. All parts of the assessment are interdependent on one another for the most accurate diagnosis/conclusion for each life event.
The first step in genealogy research is the same as in medicine; Ask the unknown specific question or relationship that needs answering. Example: “Who is Alzono Chase born 2 July 1835, Hopkinton New Hampshire?” Support the conclusion with written documentations. Now play devil’s advocate and try to disprove what you just proved. Then you have a valid supported proof.
I document my resources in different forms. I am converting my index cards, family sheets and birth certificates to my ancestry.com tree, my Family Tree maker program while still keeping my Microsoft word program of documentations. I have plans to use Ed Thompson Evidentia software to aide in my documentation once I become familiar with his program. I’m not tech savvy to say the least.
For more information please view Dear Myrtle’s You-Tube feed to listen to both MGP 1 Study Group and MGP 2 Study Group.
My goal is to improve my written citations for all my genealogical records. I strive to achieve the most accurate and well documented family tree that I can produce.