TMG-L ArchivesArchiver > TMG > 2010-12 > 1293323807
From: Rick Van Dusen <>
Subject: Re: [TMG] "Conclusions"
Date: Sat, 25 Dec 2010 16:36:47 -0800
Okay, given your definition of "conclusion", we MUST have some
conclusions. Meanwhile, I'm forced to loosen my definition somewhat.
I've been thinking of "conclusion" as some sort of jump from the solid
facts. I don't agree with Darrell that putting a surname into a tag when
the Census record has a ditto mark or a blank is a "conclusion", an
"interpretation" of the record; but rather I see it as a legitimate
"copying" of the record based on firm evidence. (I will yield that
transcribing of illegible handwriting is in fact a
conclusion/interpretation. [And my ancestor being b. "on the eunal" is a
I've been thinking that "If it walks like a duck, quakes like a duck,
has the same birthday and spouse and children as a duck, it's a duck,"
is not a conclusion. However, I'm "concluding" that my definition is too
The above is different, IMO, from, "Well, these two people bear the same
name and the Census records put them b. the same year, so they must be
the same person." I would call this "conclusion", and I don't think I'd
get much argument. Well, maybe--see below.
So being challenged here, I'm thinking now that "conclusion" is anything
separated at all from the actual content of the document. I still want
to distinguish between "concluding from solid evidence" and "jumping to
a conclusion". (My tendency is to "suspect", rather than to "conclude",
as in, "These records appear to show X and Y to be the same person.")
Now maybe what I called a "conclusion" above is in fact a "presumption",
that "conclusion" should be limited to "the evidence is clear", or that
which I've been thinking of as "actually stated".
Now concerning the purpose of our results: I think we've argued this
before; it's a matter of philosophy of family research (and someone
actually differentiated between "family research" and "genealogy").
I'm not doing this to please my descendants or other family**, but to
gather and systematize information. I'm not telling a story (although
stories are there); I'm presenting the findings of my research. While I
want reports to be readable, even interesting, I'm primarily concerned
with aggregating the documentary data.
Therefore, I'm going to state any conclusions (or at least any
presumptions) as my statements, added as memos or Note tags (or perhaps
I'll someday wish to evolve some "can't be" sorts of tag types). These
will be distinct from the actual data, and I work hard to maintain the
To me, this means that if Abraham Van Deusen is enumerated in 1850 as
Abraham Van Dusen, he will show in my 1850 Census tag as Abraham Van
Dusen,*** without any "but this can't be true" comment. The fact is that
he's thus enumerated; the accuracy of that document is not the issue in
the recording of the document.
Any conclusions must, IMO, at minimum be made separately from the
recording of the record. Personally, I'm not interested in doing much of
that level of concluding, preferring to leave that to the reader. In
this, if I'm understanding you correctly, we differ, but I don't think
we differ on evidence vs. surmise.
* Nobody who's looked at it has been able to get any better a guess, and
I've seen and looked at with the archivists the actual original paper
Census page. I'll be glad to email an image of the record offlist to
anyone interested; more eyes trying to decipher it couldn't do harm.
** In part, my position is situational; my family consists entirely of
two kinds of people: 1. Genealogists, 2. Not at all interested. I find
none of the "I'd like to know but I'm glad for you to do the research".
*** In this case, I might comment somewhere that in Albany Co, NY, in
1850, EVERY Van Deusen, whatever the particular spelling, was enumerated
as "Van Dusen". I might also note that the 1840 Census, at least in the
Town of Bern, might be more accurate as to Van Deusen entries since the
enumerator was Lawrence Van Deusen, no farther than first cousin to any
other Van Deusen. I will yield that these involve conclusions, although
we're still right there with the evidence.
John Cardinal wrote:
> Rick Van Dusen wrote:
>> I believe it is possible and preferable to never make
> We are in disagreement.
> It may be possible to never make conclusions, but I don't think it's
> practical. As soon as you attach a census tag to a TMG record that has other
> tags--and there is no other way to enter a census tag in TMG--you've drawn a
> conclusion. There are many other similar actions where it is unavoidable in
> any practical way to avoid drawing a conclusion.
> I don't think it's preferable to never make conclusions. People who review
> my project are not looking for my project to provide an unadorned
> aggregation of evidence. They want to review my conclusions in addition to
> the evidence because by drawing conclusions I add value to the data. They
> are free to reject my conclusions, of course, and with good source
> information they can find and review the evidence first-hand. If I do not
> draw conclusions/add value, I can't present the data in a lineage format and
> reviewing my data would be no more useful, and probably less useful, than
> reviewing the sources directly.
|Re: [TMG] "Conclusions" by Rick Van Dusen <>|