(I started this blog posting on the ship. Unfortunately, due to connectivity problems it did not get posted.)
We had two great days of presentations while we sailed from Skagway, Alaska, back to Seattle.
There were a couple of the presentations that warrant some comment and they may be of help to you. (Note: I asked the presenters if i could blog about their presentations and they gave approval.) Here are my comments about Tom Jones’s presentation on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).
In an early lecture, Dr. Jones mentioned that the BCG Standards Manual was being revised (1). At a scheduled on-on-one session, I asked him the extent/type of changes that we might expect. Dr. Jones stated that the changes were more clarifications of some concepts (2).
In a lecture later that week, Dr. Jones presented “This Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS): What It is and What It is Not,” and outlined specifically what constitutes “a reasonably exhaustive search.” He made special note of the fact that the emphasis should not be on the phrase “exhaustive search” but rather on the word “reasonably”. He pointed out that “overkill” was to be avoided.
He outlined six criteria:
“GPS Element 1–A reasonably exhaustive search:
- At least two independent sources in agreement
- All sources competent genealogists would examine (varies with time, place, and the research question and answer)
- Some primary information
- Some original sources
- Relevant derivative sources or secondary information replaced by findable corresponding originals and primary information
- All findable sources suggested by relevant sources databases and indexes.” (3)
My “takeaways” were:
- Dr. Jones is defining for us what a “reasonably exhaustive search” constitutes, a discussion topic by genealogists for many years.
- He may be “testing’ the standard before it is incorporated into the BCG certification criteria.
- I could see that we may need to assess our sources in the reports we write for certification. Perhaps this will take the form of an additional rubric or it might be an internal assessment within the report itself.
- In a presentation later in the cruise and not yet presented at a national conference, “Overcoming Surprising Research Barriers: A Case Study,” he presented a methodology for the assessment of sources which was very helpful.
- Researchers who wish to achieve a high standard of professionalism should not use transcribed indexes as the source, e.g. SSDI, CaDI, or many of the family search finds which do not have an image. One must go to the source of information on the index if it exists.
- Books should be considered “finding aids.” When using a book as a source, we need to assess where the author obtained the information and go there instead. (This also was stressed later in the week by Craig Scott in his “Brick Walls” sessions.)
This was one lecture on one day! And the rest of the lectures were “chockablock” with info throughout. I will blog about some of my other enlightenments I received on the way to and from Alaska in subsequent postings.
What I have done since the last posting: Arrived in Seattle this morning, and was picked up by our neighbor and friend, Joan. Very well coordinated exiting of 2500 people from a ship to the ground (an amazing feat). I went to yoga but for some reason couldn’t do “tree” very well! 🙂 ; cleaned out the suitcase and petted the cat. Did an BCG assessment of 5 client reports I have completed. I will post that assessment and solicit your input in the coming few days.
(1) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS, (address withheld), “Missing Something? Getting the Most out of Genealogical Evidence,” referring to the Board for Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, (Orem, Utah: Ancestry,2000), 1a. 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012. Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).
(2) Interview with Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS, (address withheld), 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 20 September 2012. Notes held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).
(3) Lecture by Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG (SM), CGL (SM), FASG, FUGA, FNGS, (address withheld), “The Genealogical Proof Standard: What It Is and What It Is Not,” 2012 Genealogy Conference and Cruise, 16-23 September 2012. Syllabus held by Jill Morelli (address withheld).