Wednesday, 18 May 2016

ESM's QuickLessons A DearMYRTLE Genealogy Study Group Lesson 8


Hilary Gadsby


QuickLesson 8: What Constitutes Proof?    
Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 8: What Constitutes Proof?” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (https://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-8-what-constitutes-proof : accessed 4 May 2016).

Genealogy, like many other disciplines, has to acknowledge that just because something has been recorded, be it, written, spoken or visual, does not automatically make it truthful or accurate. 
Incorrect information may have been recorded for any number of reasons. 
Alterations can be made, even in official documents, which means that the information contained in a source may not reflect the truth.

In this lesson, the author, explains how genealogical proof is a process of building or assembling the evidence required.



When a structure is built we need to take care to build it correctly so it can stand the test of time like the castle in this photograph.


Lindisfarne Castle

If we fail to maintain the structure or do not consider correctly what we need to correctly build it initially we could end up with something similar to this second photograph.




Lindisfarne Priory
So what things do we need to consider in order to build a robust proof.

Elizabeth Shown Mills suggests we need 11 basics in building our proof.
These key words sum up those points.
        1. Thorough
        2. Thoughtful
        3. Careful
        4. Unbiased
        5. Accurate
        6. Knowledgable
        7. Skilled
        8. Creative
        9. Critical
        10. Logical
        11. Well-reasoned
If all of these come in to play it would be reasonable to assume that any beginner would be unlikely to have all the skills needed to produce a well crafted proof. But none of these is unsurmountable and the skills and knowledge can be acquired through practice and education. 
Many of these skills may be taught in school and there has never been a better time to attain the knowledge of what resources are available in order to carry out thorough research.

Do not expect the answers to your research questions to be found in a single document, if an answer is there, consider how you confirm it is correct.
Many things require interpretation, it may be that any conclusion is just the best inference drawn from the resources currently available. We must always be open to changing our interpretation if further evidence is found.

Being thorough does not solely mean finding lots of sources, it also applies to how we look at what we have found. We need to consider, each of these words, each time we look at information, if we are to interprete all of the evidence we have.

It is almost certain that each of us at some stage in our research have gone back to a document or individual in our research to discover that due to a lapse in applying the basics we have missed or misinterpreted something.

I had mistakenly assigned the wrong parents to one of my husband's ancestors Richard Ward. There were 2 Richard's in Croxton Kerrial, Leicestershire, England. One christened on 6 Jun 1813 son of William and Catharine and the other on 25 Jun 1809 son of Catherine Ward which I now believe to be the correct Richard. The year of birth from the 1841-1871 census returns varies between 1809-1811 and the place of birth of Mary his wife is listed as outside Leicestershire, Marston Lincolnshire or Leicestershire, Muston, Leicestershire and Harston, Leicestershire on the census returns. I had failed to note the earlier christening fitted the information from the census records and that the Richard christened in 1813 had married a Sarah and moved to Harston, Leicestershire. Subsequent research has found Mary, whose maiden name was given as Gray at marriage and in christeninng records for some of their children, was herself christened in Marston, Lincolnshire. 

To sum up, each and everyone of us should keep in the back of our minds whenever we evaluate our sources, am I involving those basics in reaching my current conclusion. 



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