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Using the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) in Everyday Research

This presentation shows how any genealogical researcher, novice or experienced, can and should use the Genealogical Proof Standard. The explanation of each step of the GPS includes:
  • how many and what sources should be checked when planning and executing a "reasonably exhaustive" search;
  • properly citing your sources to eliminate duplication of effort and to evaluate quality of sources — documenting both positive and negative results contributes to thorough, efficient research;
  • piecing together all of the evidence and understanding the quality of each piece of evidence during analysis helps form hypotheses and conclusions;
  • if conflicts exist, a logical resolution of the conflict should be offered; and
  • the conclusion should be published (in some way) and reviewed by others who may agree with the conclusion or provide additional evidence to refute the conclusion.
In historical and genealogical research, there is no such thing as a "final conclusion." Historians take new information into account and revise theories in light of newly discovered facts. Elizabeth Shown Mills tells us, "The case is never closed on a historical conclusion" and any "decision we make today could be changed tomorrow by the discovery of previously unknown information."1 Using the Genealogical Proof Standard allows us to come close to a final conclusion.
The GPS is explained in:

Rose, Christine. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. 3d edition. San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2009.

A selected list of other useful references includes:
  1. Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians. 3d edition. Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010.
  2. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2007. Evidence Explained expands on and updates concepts presented by Ms. Mills in Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997.
  3. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. [Quick reference guide.] Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map. Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2006.
  4. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Sources. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005.
  5. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. QuickSheet: Genealogical Problem Analysis: A Startegic Plan. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010.
  6. Tucker, Mark. Genealogy Research Map. ThinkGenealogy blog. : 2010.
  7. Every issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, includes articles demonstrating use of the GPS.

1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007), 27.

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