2014 Determining Kinship Reliably with the Genealogical Proof Standard


(Offered in Pittsburgh and Orchard Lake, Michigan)

Course Coordinator: Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA
Additional Course Instructors: Karen Mauer Green, CG
Lecturers (Pittsburgh only): Cathi Desmarais, CG, and Noreen Manzella

Description:   Through lecture, discussions, and many hands-on activities, students will learn how to achieve genealogical proof by planning and executing focused research, citing the resulting sources, testing the evidence they contain, assembling that evidence into a conclusion, and explaining 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 may 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