APG-L ArchivesArchiver > APG > 2006-12 > 1165783440
From: "Helen S. Ullmann" <>
Subject: [APG] Analyzing evidence
Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 15:44:00 -0500
Seems to me that database programs such as PAF, TMG, Family Tree Maker,
etc., while they have their uses, actually get in the way of evidence
analysis. Writing in word processing is far more helpful. (This is my
current soapbox subject.)
Now that the Board for Certification is requiring a case study (also
called a proof-summary) and a kinship-determination project (which must
include at least two proof summaries), perhaps many researchers will
begin to appreciate the value of discussing a genealogical puzzle on
paper. And I literally do mean paper. A computer screen helps, but
sometimes one can analyze better when reading an argument on paper.
For certification, the kinship-determination project is to be written in
Register style, which was first used in the January 1870 issue of the
NEW ENGLAND HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL REGISTER and remains the basis
(with infinite variants) for most genealogical articles and books. (An
alternative for the BCG is NGSQ style, which mainly differs in the way
descendants are numbered). Today the BCG prefers to call it "narrative
genealogy," which is perhaps a more descriptive and less threatening term.
One can begin with just items, usually the names of parent and child, or
a tentative parent-child relationship, and discuss all the evidence,
usually in chronological order but in whatever logical pattern fits the
problem. If there is no obvious family structure, such as when trying to
distinguish between different individuals of the same name, some other
format may be more useful.
Basically Register style is just a story with a beginning, a middle, and
an end. The beginning is the introductory paragraph with the vital data
about the parents. The middle is whatever you want, usually a
chronological biography of the family. This is where the evidence can be
analyized. And the end is the list of children with their vital data.
However, sometimes it's more helpful to put one's arguments up front and
then do a summary.
Anytime I'm confronted with a problem, my own, a patron or a client's I
organize it in Register style. Everything can be right on one screen.
One doesn't have to close one screen to see another and then another.
One can describe all sorts of nuances, such as conflicts in names,
dates, or places, in one's own words instead of the "quasi-Register"
formats generated by database programs.
Writing this way can be an integral part of the research process. By the
time you've completed the project, you already have your report,
article, whatever. Clients love it.
Oh, yeah, how do you learn to analyze evidence? Think! Ponder the
evidence you have. Listen to case studies in lectures. And read, read,
read, genealogical articles.
Helen Schatvet Ullmann, CG, FASG
|[APG] Analyzing evidence by "Helen S. Ullmann" <>|