This the second of a three-part series exploring how to use the Genealogical Proof Standard in your family history research. Read part 1.
In last week’s article, we took a look at the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), a tool used by genealogists everywhere to ensure that their research is accurate, well researched, and reliable.
“The Genealogical Proof Standard is a process,” said James Ison at the 2016 RootsTech conference. “It’s a process that will help us determine what we know, helps us decide what we want to learn, helps us explain our work to others, gives us confidence about the direction we’re going, and helps us feel secure and safe in our conclusions.”
This process, which is based on a book written by Christine Rose entitled Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, outlines five essential steps to follow in order to produce accurate research. This article will focus on the first three steps: Conducting reasonably exhaustive research, ensuring all statements of fact are complete and have been properly cited, and making sure evidence is properly interpreted.
Conduct Reasonably Exhaustive Research
The idea of conducting “reasonably exhaustive” research can be one of the most puzzling steps of the GPS. What is reasonably exhaustive research? When does your work qualify as reasonably exhaustive? While there is no exact standard that requires a genealogist to look at a certain amount of documents, there are a few guidelines to follow:
Consider all possible sources of information
Obituaries. Marriage certificates. Death certificates. Probate records. Census reports. Each of these sources (and dozens of others) could contain information on the ancestor you’re seeking. Make a list of each of the sources you need to check, and then cross them off as you go through your research.