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Friday, 28 June 2013

Should I Change the Way I do my Genealogy Research?

If you read my previous post on the discussion surrounding a new book called Mastering Genealogical Proof and followed the links you will already have some idea why I have chosen this title.

From the Contents page
Chapter 1 Genealogy’s Standard of Proof
What is genealogy?
Why a genealogical proof standard?
The Genealogical Proof Standard
Modern technologies and genealogical proof
Research and reasoning cycles
Using the GPS

So What have I got from the study group discussion of Mastering Genealogical Proof Chapter 1?

Why do we need to have a set of rules for our research?
We are looking at kinship, relationships of  others to ourselves. We will only have known 2 or 3 generations of our family personally at the most and some of what we know will be hearsay. We look for records to support what we know or have been told but without some guideline how do we know when we have sufficient evidence to support any conclusion we might draw.

Why do we need to set goals?
We need to set goals in order to stay focused.
If we get a negative result this can be as important as a positive one but it is easy to overlook these, leading to repeated fruitless searching.
With historical records there are going to be plenty that are no longer extant.
Those records which may prove to be a "linch pin" in the argument may be the last record we find but if we do not set the right goals we may think we have the evidence we need when it is not conclusive.

Why should we adhere to standards for both our own work and the work of others?
If we want our work to be credible, we need to be sure of our conclusions.
If we fall short in any of the areas covered by the genealogical proof standard then our research can appear worthless.
We should be able to reproduce the work so that we can reassess it if further evidence comes to light.
Conclusions are only as good as the evidence supporting them.

To conclude this post and answer the overriding question of changing the way I do my research I must consider what I have been doing and how I might improve what I am doing.

Like many who live a distance from where their family came from I find limited time for archive research.
We all use the ever expanding online records and these can help us make the most of our research time. However a once a year trip can mean we are keen to gather as many records as possible without truly evaluating their worth.

I aim to organize and evaluate my current records so that when I next visit an archive I will have a much clearer idea of what I want to find and by properly evaluating what I need I may find that I can order records without having to visit in person.

I think Evidentia will allow me to better evaluate what I have and recognize where I have gaps in my research.

Even without the book the discussion is helping me look at what I do and how I do it.

4 comments:

Jo Tillin said...

I've just found your blog and I'm really pleased to see another UK researcher with an interest in MPG. I'll be reading your blog with interest!
Jo

June Butka said...

Well said.

Cary Bright said...

I think we are all having the same internal dialogue Hilary! Thanks for speaking to this point. It will be fun to see how we feel at the end of the study group. I am hoping that confidence will be part of the "new internal dialogue"

John Laws said...

Hi Hilary,
Dr.Jones has a point, sadly in my case as a One-Namer, the Laws Family Register it is a point 20-30 years too late I Stated in 1974 the database had 69,000 folk in it, some linked into trees some not, for years it was the collecting rather than the content with source and context.

BTW I know the edge of Snowdon having climbed there over many years including some in the RAF Moutain Rescue Teams so I know how remote it can be