Archive for the ‘GPS’ Category

In my last essay[1,2], I mentioned that I wanted to parse the forms of sources that we, as family historians, may encounter in our research. I will do that, but first wanted to write a small “side bar” piece so that I do not seem to wander too far afield of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Since that essay, I have been reading—again—much that has been written by such notable experts as Elizabeth Shown Mills and Christine Rose. I also read the musings of other researchers, who are examining both the standards with their own research to determine how well their work measures against that standard. Such studies can be quite informative. It pays to re-search for answers to one’s questions. Once is not enough.

In her book, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case,[3] Christine Rose did not place “reliable sources” in that first step, although she references the BCG Standards Manual [4]as her source of the five steps of GPS. It is a small book and one that I recommend having in one’s library. The BCG Manual, necessarily, is formal in its language. Rose’s book is more—how shall I say—down to earth. To use an analogy, the BCG Manual is like a topographical map, whereas Building a Solid Case is more like a compass that orients you towards North. The two books, combined, accomplish more than either can alone, in my opinion.

Without using that troubling term “reliable sources,” Rose takes the reader directly into focusing upon the qualities of evidence as found in any source: direct/indirect; original/derivative; primary/secondary. It is, in essence these qualities that we are assessing as we attempt to establish a source as reliable. There is a fourth set of qualities that, as historians, we should attend to as well. This is the technical assessment that I mentioned in my last essay on GPS and the one I hope to more clearly address in my next essay.



[1] Sometimes my meditations are found wanting. I want to modify a statement made in my last posting. The statement read: “Once we have addressed the more universal questions of technical analysis…” The phrase should have been “Once we have addressed the broader questions of technical analysis…” I corrected it in that posting.

[2] “Genealogical Proof Standards and Reliable Source (Part 2), URL: https://sfgayle.wordpress.com/2008/03/27/genealogical-proof-standard-and-reliable-sources-part-2/.

[3] Rose, Christine. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. 2d. ed. (San José, California: CR Publications, 2005).

[4] The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing Co., 2000).


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