Chapter One-What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?
Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case 4th Edition Revised, (San Jose, California: CR Publications) 2014.
I am following along with DearMYRTLE's newest study group; The Genealogical Proof Standard Study Group. This group will meet in DearMYRTLE's "Hangouts" held Wednesdays at noon eastern time from January 4th to February 1st and will study the work of Christine Rose and her book, "Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case." If you can't attend a live hangout, they are archived to You Tube within a week, (EDIT) but ideally you should go to her blog and find the monthly post of links to her hangouts and register so that you can see the comments/conversations that happened in the community of viewers and may have kept going after the webinar was over.
First let me just say that I love this book, even though I am only one chapter in as I begin writing this post. (Not compensated, I bought my own copy - FYI). I recommend this book to any researcher but I strongly recommend it as a book for beginners. I own other books about the GPS or which address the GPS and they are wonderful, but they contain so much ancillary, though important, information that I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed trying to take it all in. The information and explanations in Christine Rose's book are distilled into the most essential elements so that everything you're reading goes to the very heart of the matter, a great way to begin learning this important topic.
When I started my genealogy journey, I was as guilty of name collecting as any novice, although for me it was more name gathering; I was lucky to begin with a lot of names but I just entered them into my public Ancestry tree without any clue of the consequences; from a family Bible from my maternal grandfather's line, from a huge 40-year-old compiled genealogy (in Swedish) of one of my great-grandmothers' lines, from a local history of the area where my maternal grandmother grew up and a genealogy compiled by my paternal grandfather. I even knew that there were problems with at least one of these sources, my own name was incorrect in that local history of the North Hatley, Quebec area, and still I entered other relatives' information into my tree from that book as if it were coming directly from their own mouths - sigh.
Although there was always more to genealogy for me than just adding names to my tree, it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I really began to understand the importance of citations and that these standards I was reading about applied to all researchers not just the professionals. Still, my attempts to apply them to my own genealogy have come in fits and starts as other genealogy-related tasks have been taking my time and attention. I'd really like to develop this skill in 2017.
Part of the first chapter of Christine Rose's book deals with evaluating evidence to answer our genealogy questions. Her examples are excellent and illustrate the points beautifully. Below are a few examples from my own research.
These are copies of pages from a family Bible that originally belonged to my maternal grandfather's parents, George Robert Smith and Isabella Frances Parker.
What we can determine is whether the evidence contained on these pages is indirect, direct or negative and that depends on our research question(s). If we are looking for the date of birth of my second-great-grandfather, Benjamin Smith, for example, this document provides direct evidence, it answers the question directly. If we are looking for the name of Lucy Hamilton Smith's husband, again, this document provides direct evidence, it answers that question directly.
Next I'll be looking at this genealogy of the Matthews family; the parents and siblings of my paternal great-grandfather, Arthur William Matthews.
The source here again is derivative and the quality of the information is indeterminable and as to whether the evidence is direct or indirect, that depends on the question we want answered. If we want to know where Arthur was born, this document provides direct evidence, if we want to know where his mother died, this document provides direct evidence. However, if we want to know when Arthur's mother died, this document does not provide any evidence.
Finally, this document is a little different, although like the others it is not an official or government document. This is a birth announcement for my father; more ephemera than documentation, it still provides us with genealogical information.
Because I recognize the handwriting, I know that this announcement was created by my grandmother. Her presence at my father's birth makes the information original. Although the announcement is not dated, I am going to assume that it was created near the time of my father's birth, that is, after all, the point of it. That timeliness and the fact that my grandmother was present at the event make the information primary.
Again, the type of information depends upon our research question. If we want to establish date of birth, this is direct evidence.
Each of the analyses above only look at the document in question. Once I have completed reasonably exhaustive research for whatever question I want to answer, then I can analyze the documents together to complete all the elements of the GPS and make conclusions.
I'm just learning these concepts, so please feel free to let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with my analysis.