APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2003-11 > 1070257127
From: "Mills" <>
Subject: Re: [APG] Genealogical Theory (inc. Schools, Academics, etc.)
Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2003 23:38:47 -0600
> ProGen, in some areas . . . is still more philosophical than quantitative
(an observation, not a complaint <g>.
Doesn't sound like a complaint to me, Jerry -- just a balanced critique. But
it leaves me with two questions: (1) When one speaks of the "theoretical
underpinnings" of a subject that is essentially a "social science," that
theory *is* more philosophical than quantitative, no? (2) How do you
quantify genealogical research, when it intrinsically focuses on human
lives -- and every human life and its trail of records is unique?
Historians have ventured into quantification (my own history thesis did just
that), but the reality is that the statistics generated for one particular
community differ from those for other societies. Demos's quantifications
differ from those of the Rudwicks, which differ from Stone's in England, or
Flandrin's in France; and mine on the colonial Louisiana-Texas frontier
differ from each of those. Each study of this type helps us understand
particular cultures, but it generates no "theoretical underpinnings" that
would apply to genealogical research as a whole--except the need to learn
advanced research skills, to document carefully, to critically analyze all
evidence, and to thoroughly exhaust all records before reaching conclusions.
Am I seeing this field too simplistically?
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
Author, *Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian*
Editor/Lead Author, *Professional Genealogy: A Manual for
Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians*