2015 Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard


June 28 to July 3, 2015

Course Coordinator: Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

Additional Course Instructor: Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS

Description:  Through lecture, discussions, and many hands-on activities, students will apply the principles and exercises in Mastering Genealogical Proof to learn how to plan and execute focused research, cite the resulting sources, test the evidence that sources contain, assemble evidence into a conclusion, and explain it clearly.

This course is based on the content of Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 2013) and uses exercises from that textbook. Family historians of various skill levels will find this course helpful.

The following eight lecture topics and sub-topics will be presented in the following order beginning Monday. Each topic may flow from class period to class period allowing for each to be examined and discussed without time period constraints.

1.  Genealogy’s standard of proof

  • Defining genealogy
  • Rationale for the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS)
  • Elements of the GPS
  • Research and reasoning cycles leading to genealogical proof

2. Fundamental concepts

  • Posing effective research questions
  • Source characteristics and distinctions
  • Information characteristic and distinctions
  • Evidence characteristics and distinctions

3. Thorough Research

  • What “reasonably exhaustive” means
  • Identifying relevant sources
  • Planning and executing thorough research
  • Demonstrating research extent

4. Source Citations

  • Citation purposes and components
  • Questions citations should answer
  • Citing images of sources
  • Sequencing citation elements
  • Kinds of citations

5. Evidence Assessment

  • Tests of analysis and correlation
  • Outcomes of evidence assessment

6. Assembling Evidence

  • How evidence can conflict
  • Strategies for resolving conflicting evidence
  • Handling unresolved conflicts
  • Ways to assemble genealogical evidence

7. The Written Conclusion

  • Proof statements
  • Proof summaries
  • Proof arguments
  • Developing and organizing the argument
  • Writing clearly

8. Applying the GPS to Your Own and Others’ Work

Course will end with course certificate presentation on Friday before noon followed by lunch.


Tuesday, Fourth Session

“Beginning at a Black Oak:A Neighborhood Reconstruction in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania” with Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, Instructor

Thursday, Fourth Session

“Finding the Parents and Origin of William Witt of Cincinnati” with Karen Mauer Jones, CG, FGBS, Instructor