Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How do scholarly genealogists approach the evidence process?

From the BetterGEDCOM wiki, Tom W., “[perhaps we should ask] … scholarly genealogists to express … [h]ow they do things, and then shape and evaluate our proposed model … to … support their processes. […] Or maybe there’s a book we could all read.”

Mark Tucker, ThinkGenealogy, has done great work on these topics. Perhaps two entries from his blog are a good place to start.

a. Mark Tucker, “Genealogy Research Process Map,” blog entry of 10 July 2008 ThinkGenealogy, for summary of his research map development, with links to blog entries about his work on the map. Lower right of the linked page offers down-loadable PDF of the map as “Genealogy Research Map v2-3.pdf”
b. Mark Tucker, “3 Documents to Improve the Quality of your Research," blog entry of 8 January 2009, ThinkGenealogy, for discussion and link to his video, “Navigating Research with the GPS.”

For another take on the process, see the blog by The Ancestry Insider for “Evidence Management” and the entry 10 May 2010, “Evidence Management Explained.” Also the related comment by "John," in part, “But there's more to evidence management: It's an iterative process, beginning with a research plan to find sources, the search for those sources, abstraction of the evidence, formation of an hypothesis with an analysis of the evidence found so far, and writing up the search so far. … This process doesn't mesh well with a tabular "fact" presentation associated with all the genealogy database programs I've tried …”

On the Standards tab to this blog, Myrt provides references and some links to scholarly resources (U.S. practices). The BCG “work samples,” include proof arguments, providing insight into how scholarly genealogists document their conclusions.

Helen S. Ullmann, CG, FASG, has a GEDCOM posted at WorldConnect. See “Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG, GEDCOM"

One professional genealogist has started an “Ancestry Public Tree.” Mary Douglass indicates her proof arguments will be placed in the Public Tree “stories” section. Those who are members of can browse her Public Trees here.

The Association of Professional Genealogists has a public mailing list. Anyone can subscribe to the list and participate in the dialog. See this link.

The archives for the public list are accessible here.
Archives of the former list are accessible at Rootsweb, APG-L archives (type “APG” into the “Submit Query” dialog box)

Other good references follow. Hope this helps. --GJ

Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2000).

Elizabeth Shown Mills, ed., Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2001), hardcover, 654 pages
Available on Amazon, Association of Professional Genealogists website (offers discount to members) or from the publisher.
See the publisher's link for an outline of the book’s sections and chapters.

For discussions about understanding sources and working with evidence, see Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained – Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd edition, 2009, 885 pp.
An electronic version (pdf) of her first edition might still be available for purchase and download at

Genealogical narrative style guides and references (U.S.):

Michael Leclerc and Henry Hoff, editors, Genealogical Writing in the 21st Century: A Guide to Register Style and More, 2nd ed. (Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2006).

Helen Schatvet Ullmann, “Writing a Family Sketch in Register Style,” New England Ancestors 8 (Summer 2007): 41, 42, 45.

Joan F. Curran, Madilyn C. Crane, and John H. Wray, edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic Systems, Complex Families, and International Kin, rev. ed. (Washington: NGS, 2008).

The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (Register).

National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ).


Greg Lamberson said...

Wow. This is a real treasure trove of material. Thanks, GeneJ! I'll put this collection at the top of my reading pile.

Randy Seaver said...

Excellent post, thanks!