Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group 2
My Chapter Five Homework Assignment
Analyze and Correlate
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. [Book available from the publisher athttp://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof ]
“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group
Chapter five is about Analysis and Correlation. The importance of taking one document at a time to analyze its purpose, history, content, informants and authenticity. In doing so, you can access the type of work, authored, original, derivative, if primary or secondary, how relevant is it, the bias of the informant or independent source. All of these will aid in determining the validity and error proneness of each document. We use the less error prone, less bias document we can in our research. Once we have identified and analyzed the document for any errors, alteration and strength to being less error prone we will need to decide if we use it in our research. We will note the document in our research log whether we use it or not because we have reviewed and analyzed it. We may come back to it later if no other less prone document telling us the information on it is available elsewhere.
When analyzing our documents, one at a time, we have to keep in mind the 5 W’s; Why, What, Who, Was, Were; along with the Ifs and Does questions.
Was researched carefully
Was challenge strong?
Were tempered protected
If peer evaluated
If most reliable
Does alteration show?
Does appear bias?
Now it is time to compare and contrast your documents with each other to confirm you have the correct individual/ancestor you are seeking. Keep in mind that the sources need to be independent of each other, not the same informant, to provide validity.
We started with the analysis of the records, as mentioned above. This is also considered the “Data Collection” stage. I tell myself this is where I want to be the Turtle not the Hare in data collection. Haste makes waste, is another way of looking at it. Dear Myrtle phrased it as “A Good Genealogist finishes last.” I strongly agree. Take your time in collecting your documents. This will provide you with the strongest, most reliable and least error prone research documents for the next stage of correlation.
Attempt to disprove:
When doing the correlation start by attempting to disprove what you believe. Open the information up to challenge. When it stands up to the challenge you have a strong argument proving your research. Resolve any conflicts that you find with either positive or negative (inferred) research documents. We will discuss this more in Chapter 6 of Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas Jones.
You now have answered the genealogical question that started you research. It stands up to analysis and comparison. When that happens your research has passed the test. It can be used as your conclusion.
Ways to compare and contrast:
Use the following records:
Any other records you find
Once collected create comparison charts, wither by hand, excel spreadsheets, on line programs, whatever you are most comfortable with. I still use long hand charting, time lines, list and tables. I enter them into my Microsoft word program. My goal is to learn how to use the computer programs spreadsheets, Family Tree Maker and Evidence Explained to improve the ease of research.
Dr. Thomas jones book, mastering Genealogical Proof, gives you several pages of practice homework to aid you in becoming comfortable with comparing and contrasting all of the records and ways I listed above.
The bottom line is just did it to the best of your ability. Each time you analyze, compare and contrast your research records your will improve. You will find your own comfort level. Remember the Turtle finished the race. That is our goal to finish with the most accurate research we can provide for future generations to add to. Our Genealogy Research is never actually done, because there is always something new that can challenge our research. That is a good thing. It allows us to constantly improve.
Be the “Good Genealogist” that Dear Myrtle mentioned, finish last.
Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 6. page 53-71; Appendix A, Appendix B, page 167-171. [Book available from the publisher athttp://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof ]
“Dear Myrtle’s” Mastering Genealogical Proof 2 Study Group; Chapter 5 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2PbH54oDHk