TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2010-12 > 1292796157
From: Richard Damon <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] "Conclusions" (was: Always specific names for specificevents? Bad idea.)
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2010 17:02:37 -0500
References: <20101219115520.088611@Terry> <4D0E6A38.email@example.com>
I think the difference is what type of report are you generating. If
you are generating a "Research Report" then you want a listing of the
documents and exactly what they say, possible with your thoughts about
On the other hand, If you are generating a *Genealogy*, which is
really a document focused on the life and history of persons (each
getting their own chapter, organized to show how the lives
interrelated), then the actual contents of the documents is secondary
and will show up in the sourcing information (footnotes, endnote,
bibliography, appendixes, etc). Since a give piece is about a given
person, it should refer to them by their "real" name (at least as well
as you can determine it). It should not matter that some clerk/census
taker (or the person themselves) misspelled the name on a give
document, that may be worth mentioning in the source citation, but no
more unless there is enough uncertainty about the document referring
to this person or some other part of interpreting the document that it
needs mention in talking about the person.
Now, often what we generate is something in between, we are generating
a bit more than a research report, but we don't feel we are "finished"
enough to drop the research information from the main report.
On Sun, 19 Dec 2010 12:25:28 -0800, Rick Van Dusen
>Yes, and let's not get muddy in our logic and confuse "drawing
>conclusions" with "source is not accurate".
>If a document says "x", a good researcher will report, "Document says
>'x'." If the researcher knows that other documents say "y", s/he needs
>to also record that. So far, we have no conclusions being inserted.
>This is where I have a problem with some tag types and other methods of
>recording that people have reported using. I'm not at all sure that, if
>we dutifully report what the source says, we need tag types that say
>"can't be that way".
>(Before anyone who uses such tags takes offense, let me disclaim that I
>CAN see the value of these tag types in the research process: The "ain't
>possible" tag can be helpful to the researcher for keeping issue "out
>where it can be seen", for one's own personal use.)
>Back to the issue at hand:
>I believe it is possible and preferable to never make conclusions, but
>to let the documents speak. Let the reader see the inconsistencies;
>they're not the researcher's problem. (We can, however, explain any
>problems with the documentation which are not apparent on the surface,
>and/or add commentary reports on where we looked or couldn't look. Still
>not conclusions, though.)
>But that's not to say that the documents are always correct. (Any
>beyond-neophyte knows that's not even close to true.) For example,
>Daniel Van Deusen could not have been in Adamsville, NY and also in
>Clinton Prison, NY on the Census day in 1880, so at least one Census
>entry is wrong.* However, I can record both Census entries as they
>exist, and I should do so without "conclusion", letting the record speak
>in my report output.
>We know the documentary evidence is often questionable and we know that
>in many cases we'll probably never find "conclusive" evidence (e.g. the
>records of the New Salem DR Church are G-O-N-E-gone, and evidence
>suggests they were already gone by 1865). We must be content with
>reporting what we find, and stopping at that.
>* Court proceedings put him convicted in 1878, so "part of the year"
>doesn't explain anything. Also, presuming that the Census record from
>Adamsville is his mother's wishful thinking, and also knowing that her
>reports of at least three very different birthplaces, her reliability as
>a witness is questionable and calls into question ALL Census records
>where she might have given the report. (And yes, I've allowed myself
>some conclusions in this paragraph.)
>Terry Reigel wrote:
>> Darrell A. Martin wrote:
>> ...Whether that was correct is, of course, another matter.
>> Terry Reigel
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