Spotlight on Courses: Advanced Level – the GPS

To further help those trying to decide which course to register for on Thursday, the following was written by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG about his course, “Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS.” Please review the course description as well.

The genealogical world is very excited at the upcoming new book by Dr. Jones that will be utilized in this new course as described below. Its spring publication date should allow time to purchase it before the July course. Those who do not take the course will find that the book can be a self-instructive text with exercises and an answer key. Congratulations to Dr. Jones for providing this type of resource to the genealogical field!

Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard
by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG

Everyone tracing a family’s history faces a dilemma. We strive to reconstruct relationships and lives of people we cannot see, but if we cannot see them, how do we know we have portrayed them accurately? Is determining ancestry that predates living people’s memory just guesswork? Or do we blindly trust every source we examine and ignore inconsistencies? Should we perhaps do the opposite—mistrust sources to the point that our conclusions are mostly tentative? Can we not determine reliably which findings reflect the past? If we can make that determination, how can we show others its credibility?

“Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard” aims to help experienced family historians address this dilemma and apply respected standards for acceptable conclusions. The course will be both interactive and activity based, with at least twenty-five in-class exercises using real records, real research, and real issues. Content will be presented in digestible chunks. Although the course will have an American focus, its principles apply across chronological, ethnic, geopolitical, and religious boundaries. The instructor designed the course’s explanations and exercises to help family historians portray accurately the lives and relationships of people they cannot see. It applies directly to family histories, reports (for self or clients), genealogical articles, and portfolio elements for certification applications.

Course content and activities will follow Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society), scheduled for publication in spring 2013. The textbook is strongly recommended for this course. It includes a glossary and more in-depth explanations than are feasible for handout material. Besides this text, many of the in-class activities will use two case studies, which the instructor will e-mail to registrants a few weeks before the course begins.

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