TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM-L ArchivesArchiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2007-12 > 1198481709
From: Jeanne Larzalere Bloom <>
Subject: [TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM] Genealogical Proof Standard
Date: Mon, 24 Dec 2007 01:35:09 -0600
As one that has made the transition, my advice is to apply one of the
few constants in genealogy, "It all depends". It depends on the client.
It depends on the goal(s) of the research.
With the Department of the Army repatriation project, generally there is
very little information in the soldier's file. In many cases, if I am
lucky enough to find an online tree, I treat the information much like
an oral history. It is an unreliable source that one can use to begin
proving/disproving family relationships. In some cases, depending on the
stage of the research and the stage of desperation, if I find an online
tree I attempt to contact the poster. My experience is that only about
one in ten respond to a query.
Even if I felt that the client's goal(s) would be served by contacting a
poster, I would never make the outreach without the client's permission.
One never knows what family dynamics lurk behind the scenes.
I would never make the suggestion to a client that he/she conduct
independent research, this includes contacting a poster, in the midst of
my research. I usually have enough discrepancies to explain between what
is "known" and what I "learn" without introducing a new source for
discrepancies. Also, the potential for disaster is too great. There is
the potential for duplicating research that the client is performing
simultaneously. Potential for changing the parameters of the search.
Potential for time-consuming extended correspondence with the client,
analyzing every bit of "new" client information. In my opinion the final
report is the place for these "discussions". Advice for Transitional
Genealogist, one of the mental transitions is client management.
If I felt that contacting a poster might be appropriate, I might include
a recommendation to contact a poster in the section of the report,
Recommendations for Future Research. I would think long and hard about
this. Introducing a "new" person into the project could change the
dynamics with the client. One might his/her self answering to and
educating two masters at different levels of experience. If the client
accepted this recommendation, contacted the poster, and received new
information, I would want it forwarded to me for evaluation before
research begins on the next phase of the project.
However, if this was a case where the client was from outside the United
States and the goal was to locate living family members of a branch that
immigrated to the United States I would probably make the recommendation.
In one report I have used an online tree as a source. Included in that
online tree (author and date of contribution not known) was a partial
abstract of an article (no indication of where it was originally
published.) This article was important because it mentioned the names of
the parents and the number of children. The "real" research suggested a
connection with another family. If the information in the article was
true, that it would be fruitless for the client to attempt to prove a
connection with that family I wanted to dissuade the client from
needlessly spending time and money on what I felt would eventually prove
to be negative results.
So, "It all depends".
Jeanne Larzalere Bloom, CG(SM)
CG, Certified Genealogist is a service mark of the Board for
Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified
associates after periodic competency evaluations. The board name is
>Connie, has raised an excellent point for discussion on this Transitional
>Genealogist list: the extent to which practices we follow in our personal
>research might be practical, feasible, and/or advisable for client work?
>In making a "literature survey" for a new client problem, do you feel it
>would be cost effective to use part of the client's allotted research time
>to contact posters of online trees and ask for their sources? Is this
>something we might want to recommend to clients that they personally do? If
>so, would we suggest to clients that they forward to us, for our evaluation,
>any responses that seem to be supported by evidence?
>To those of you who have already made this transition: What advice would you
>have on this point for those who are now making the transition (which is,
>after all, a mental transition as well as one of activity).
>Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
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