Family History Episode 20 – The Genealogical Proof Standard

Originally published 2009. Republished February 25, 2014

https://lisalouisecooke.com/familyhistorypodcast/audio/fh20.mp3

Download the Show Notes for this Episode

Welcome to this step-by-step series for beginning genealogists—and more experienced ones who want to brush up or learn something new. I first ran this series in 2008-2009. So many people have asked about it, I’m bringing it back in weekly segments.

Family History Genealogy Made Easy Podcast

Episode 20: The Genealogical Proof Standard

In this episode we are going to cover a powerful process for doing your genealogy research. It’s called the Genealogical Proof Standard or GPS.

If you’re new to research you may hear some terms that you’re not familiar with. This is the ideal time to start getting familiar with them because it may save you going back and re-doing some of your hard work later down the road.

If you’re an experienced researcher, you may already have had some experience with the GPS. But even if you have, you likely haven’t heard it quite like this. My very special guest is Mark Tucker, a software architect by day and an avid genealogist evenings and weekend. And it’s safe to say Mark has a passion for genealogy and he brings his computing expertise to genealogy in some pretty exciting ways, most recently by process mapping the Genealogical Proof Standard – the GPS – into a visual aid that will help you navigate your way to a successful family tree. (Update: Mark’s Think Genealogy blog is no longer available.)

In our first segment Mark tells us how he got started using the Genealogical Proof Standard, why he created the GPS map, and what it will do for you to improve your genealogy research. Then he gives us an overview of the Genealogical Proof Standard and the various tools that go along with it.

In our second segment we talk about how the GPS map can be effectively used for breaking down your research brick walls.

What is the GPS?

The Genealogical Proof Standard speaks to the quality of our genealogy research process, as outlined in the BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. BCG stands for the Board of Certification of Genealogists, and it’s an internationally recognized organization that certifies qualified genealogists who meet their standards.

The idea behind the GPS is that it provides standards generally accepted in the field of genealogy research. Historically the GPS has been thought of in conjunction with professional genealogists. But more and more it is being used by family historians everywhere who want to do a quality job of climbing their family tree.

The Genealogical Proof Standard is really like a process map. It maps out the proven steps that a good genealogist takes to answer their family tree questions.

Proof is a fundamental concept in genealogy. In order for your research to really be accurate and dependable, each conclusion you reach about an ancestor must have sufficient credibility to be considered as proven. To make sure that conclusions you come to about your family are accurate they really need to meet standards of the Genealogical Proof Standard (The GPS). The GPS consists of five major criteria:

  • You have to be sure that you have conducted a reasonably exhaustive search.
  • You need to have complete and accurate source citations.
  • You need to do the analysis and correlation of the information that you’ve found. It’s not just enough to find a fact, you have to look at it within the context of all of the fact and make sure that it fits together in a way that really makes sense.
  • If that analysis brings to light the fact that there are conflicts when you put your data together, then your next step is to go back and work to resolve any conflicting evidence. You’ll want to look for additional resources to solve the question at hand.
  • You need to be able to write a sound, reasoned, and coherent conclusion. If you can summarize your findings in a way that makes sense and you can show your proof you know that you’re in good shape and your hard work meets the Genealogical Proof Standard.

The GPS is not just a tool for professional genealogists, but it’s also a tool for you and your research. It actually makes a lot of sense, and it’s pretty simple when you break it down into the 5 basic steps:

  1. Conduct a reasonably exhaustive search;
  2. Document complete and accurate source citations;
  3. Analyze and correlate all of the collected information;
  4. Resolve any conflicting evidence;
  5. Write a sound reasoned, and coherent conclusion.

GPS Resources

Mark’s Genealogy Research Process Chart and Powerpoint presentation “Navigating Research with the GPS.” (Unfortunately this is no longer available.)

Learn more about Genealogy Ethics and Standards at the Board for Certification of Genealogists.

The Historical Biographer’s Guide to the Research Process Quicksheet, a laminated quick reference guide by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

What Makes Findmypast a Genealogy Giant

Here’s what makes Findmypast a Genealogy Giant Findmypast ranks as one of the Genealogy Giants: one of the world’s biggest and best genealogy websites. It’s a must-use site for tracing your roots in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Findmypast also offers...

Which Genealogy Website Should I Use? Comparing the Genealogy Giants.

Genealogy Giants quick reference guide cheat sheet Big 4

“Which big genealogy website should I use?” Genealogy Gems takes on that ambitious family history question in ongoing comparative coverage of the “Genealogy Giants,” Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com. (Disclosure: this article contains affiliate links. we will be compensated if you make a purchase. Thank you for supporting this free blog.)

Which Genealogy Giants website is best for me?

The four Genealogy Giants (Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com) all offer the following to their top-tier users:

  • millions of historical records from around the world;
  • powerful, flexible search interfaces;
  • family tree-building tools;
  • automated record hinting (if you have a tree on the site);
  • Help/tutorials for site users.

But each has unique strengths and weaknesses, too. You may determine that one or two of these sites meets your needs now. But your family history research needs may change. For example, you may discover an Irish or Swedish ancestor whose records may be hosted on a different site than the one you’ve been using. Or you may find that you need DNA to push back further on your family tree. It’s critical to which sites offer what records and tools, so you know your options when your needs or interests change.

Comparing the Top Genealogy Websites

There are so many features on each site–and an apples-to-apples comparison isn’t easy.

Here’s one example: how many records are on each site? Some sites include DNA results and user-submitted family tree profiles in their total record count. Others don’t. One site has a universal family tree–ideally with one record per person who has ever lived–and the others host individual trees for each user, leading to lots of duplication. Does a birth record count as one record? FamilySearch thinks so. But other sites may count a birth record as three records, because a baby, mom and dad are all named. So it’s not easy to compare historical record content across all the sites.

Watch the “Genealogy Giants” kick-off lecture

Additional Genealogy Giants Website Resources

Ancestry.com:

  • Click here for a step-by-step introduction to getting started on Ancestry.com.

FamilySearch.org:

  • Click here to learn why everyone should have a free FamilySearch login–and use it!

Findmypast.com:

  • Click here to learn more about the historical record collections Sunny Morton loves on Findmypast, including British Isles resources and content for tracing your U.S. ancestors!

MyHeritage:

Reviews of “Genealogy Giants”

“You may have asked, ‘Which is the best online genealogy service for me to use?’….I suspect this video [presentation by Sunny Morton at RootsTech 2017] will answer most of your questions. Topics covered include cost, record types, geographic coverage, genetic testing, DNA matching, search flexibility, languages supported, mobile-friendly, automated matching, and a lot more. Sunny provides the most information about these four sites that I have ever seen in any other one document or video. This is a keeper! I have been using all four of these web sites for years and yet I learned several new facts about them, thanks to Sunny’s online video presentation. I suspect you will learn some things as well.”  – Dick Eastman, Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

“We want to tell you how much we enjoyed the presentation about the comparison of the four major websites. [Sunny] did an excellent job and we were so thrilled with her presentation. She was so prepared and presented it in such a manner as to be understood. Give her our best.” – Eldon and Dorothy Walker

“I am incredibly thankful for your Big 4 session. I’ve never had interest in Findmypast or MyHeritage as I felt FamilySearch and Ancestry had it all…and hadn’t heard of PERSI either. With newly found Irish roots (via DNA), I’m excited to extend some lines that have gone cold.” – a FamilySearch employee

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Genealogy Gems Episode 202 – Free Episode

The Genealogy Gems Podcast
Episode 202
Lisa Louise Cooke

Highlights of this episode include:

  • AncestryDNA’s new Genetic Communities: An Interview with Catherine Ball, Ancestry’s Chief Scientific Officer;
  • Meet contestant Joe Greer from Relative Race, the genealogy reality show;
  • The new Genealogy Gems Book Club featured title: a novel from an internationally best-selling author
  • A botched reference to the 1950 census in a Stephen King novel?and 5 tips for counting down to the 1950 census release in exactly 5 years
  • Naming traditions tip from a listener
  • Lisa’s Google search strategies: search operators, YouTube and more

 

NEWS: ANCESTRYDNA GENETIC COMMUNITIES

Ancestry.com rolls out AncestryDNA Genetic Communities

FREE VIDEO: Introducing AncestryDNA Genetic Communities

Genealogy Gems Podcast episode 201 about new AncestryDNA study

 

NEWS: MYHERITAGE CONSISTENCY CHECKER

Access by logging in to your MyHeritage account and find this tool under the Family Tree dropdown menu:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This podcast is sponsored by:

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Visit www.MyHeritage.com

 

 

A Similar Tool: RootsMagic Problem Search

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In RootsMagic, find it under the Tools menu. Select Problem Search, then Problem List to select the different kinds of problems you can have RootsMagic identify for you and to choose what age ranges you decide are out of bounds for a new father or mother.

Thank you to our podcast sponsors:

Backblaze lisa louise cooke

animoto how a genealogy society can grow membership

MAILBOX: NAMING TRADITIONS

download backblaze

Norwegian naming traditions tip from a listener

Irish naming conventions mentioned in this Q&A with Irish expert Kate Eakman

Mexican Genealogy Guide by David A. Fryxell

2 more places to find naming traditions:

Google search: for the name of the country or ethnic group, plus naming traditions

FamilySearch Wiki


MAILBOX: GOOGLE SEARCH OPERATOR TIP: “Oppenheim the butcher, NOT the bomb!”

FREE VIDEO TUTORIAL:
Speak Google’s Language: Google Search Operator Basics

The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, 2nd edition by Lisa Louise Cooke

Google Drive and other tips

 

 

 

 

MAILBOX: STEPHEN KING AND THE 1950 CENSUS

To search inside books in Amazon:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTERVIEW: JOE GREER ON RELATIVE RACE

Meet Team Black: Joe and Madison Greer of Portland, OR

Joe Greer Relative Race

 

 

 

 

Relative Race BYUTV

Relative Race: “What happens when genealogy meets reality TV? Using their DNA as a guide, contestants embark on the ultimate road trip across America, completing challenges and meeting unknown relatives along the way.”

Click here to watch past episodes online for free.  The last two episodes of season two, 9 & 10, will air back to back respectively at 7pm MT/9pm ET and 8pm MT/10PM ET on Sunday, April 30.

Click here to learn more about the show

 

BONUS CONTENT FOR GENEALOGY GEMS APP USERS
Free PDF summary of 8 top genealogy TV shows from the past several years and where you can watch them online?a few of them for free, including Relative Race.

The Genealogy Gems app is FREE in Google Play and $2.99 for Windows, iPhone and iPad users.

 

INTERVIEW: Catherine Ball, Chief Scientific Officer, Ancestry.com

About Catherine Ball: Chief Scientific Officer at Ancestry

Catherine Ball Ancestry

FREE VIDEO DEMO: Introducing AncestryDNA Genetic Communities

Study using AncestryDNA data identifies group migration patterns

Thanks to Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard for joining us to talk about this new development in genetic genealogy. Click here to learn more about Diahan’s how-to DNA video tutorials and personal consultation services for solving your family history mysteries with DNA.

 

GENEALOGY GEMS BOOK CLUB

New featured title: The Whole Town’s Talking by Fannie Flagg

 

A multi-generational novel about a Swedish immigrant and the town he builds in the American Midwest by luring other Swedish settlers and a mail-order bride. As characters die, they take up residency in the local cemetery and continue to comment on the activities and people of the town.

Also recommended by Fannie Flagg: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

New from past Book Club authors:

The Missing Man by Nathan Dylan Goodwin, a novella in his popular Forensic Genealogist series

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is now available in paperback

Everyone Brave is Forgiven Chris Cleave

PROFILE AMERICA:
THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE

 

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer

Sunny Morton, Editor

Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor

Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Vienna Thomas, Associate Producer

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