*This is the first of a three-part series exploring how to use the Genealogical Proof Standard in your family history research. Part 2.
Life is good for the family historian with dozens of records containing direct evidence. Accurate and complete marriage certificates that list the marriage date, full legal names, and the names of each set of parents can be more valuable than a shoe box full of money in the search for a missing ancestor.
“Direct evidence is awesome,” said James Ison at the RootsTech 2016 conference. “A birth certificate will list the name of parents. It’s direct evidence. It answers a question. A marriage license will say what the bride’s maiden name is. A baptismal record will say the dates and the places of birth—just exactly what we want.”
But what do you do when direct evidence isn’t available?
Seasoned genealogists know that direct evidence records only last so long. At some point, all researchers face a situation where bits and pieces of indirect evidence is available, and when this happens, progress can hit a massive speed bump and careen to a halt.
“Indirect evidence is like a puzzle piece,” continued Ison. “You can’t answer any particular question just based upon this piece of evidence. You have to fit it together.”
When this happens, it’s time to reach for your GPS, says Ison.
“You’ve seen one of these devices,” said Ison as he shows a picture of a mobile GPS to the RootsTech audience. “I don’t go anywhere without my GPS. It helps you know where you are. You obtain directions with confidence, and you feel safe and secure because you have one.”
Just like you’d use a handheld GPS to navigate a foreign city, a genealogist can turn to the Genealogical Proof Standard to help put the pieces of indirect evidence together and break down research walls.
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