Archiver > TRANSITIONAL-GENEALOGISTS-FORUM > 2010-07 > 1278369138-01

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Subject: Re: [TGF] EE Discussion - Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis - BasicIssues (1.2)
Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2010 17:32:18 -0500
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Cynthia wrote:
> It is just that how to judge the RES ... is an issue.
> It becomes more complex, though, don't you think? , when so many more
scans are available to a wider range professional (and non) audience outside
their usual area of expertise? That, I think, is a sub-context that has not
been addressed in those posts.

Cynthia, like Connie, I do not see how the availability of "more scans"
(which, I assume to mean "more digital images online") "outside [our] usual
area of expertise" would affect a "reasonably exhaustive search."

The premise seems to imply that "areas of expertise" means "expertise in a
specific set of records." Ergo, when records we aren't familiar with become
digitized, that expands the scope of the search.

To the contrary, I would argue, expertise in a subject area requires us to
know what records exist for that subject, regardless of whether they are
digitized (or filmed, transcribed, abstracted, or whatever). Therefore, a
reasonably exhaustive search requires us to identify, locate, and use those
records, regardless of what form they are in or how we access them.

The subject line of your message points to EE 1.2, which is "completeness of
research" rather than "reasonably exhaustive research," but I don't see how
new digitization projects change the parameters.

Given the criticalness of this topic to everything we do in genealogy, for
those who don't have access to EE, I'll post that section below. IMO, the
essence of "reasonably exhaustive research" lies in the first two sentences
of paragraph 2, below.

1.2 Completeness of Research
Reliable conclusions are rarely rooted in half-tilled soil. Any relevant
record that goes unexamined is a land mine waiting to explode our
premature theories. The risk is great enough when, in a rare run of luck, we
are blessed with documents all leaning toward the same
conclusion. The risk cannot be chanced when-as more often happens-we must
interpret a trail of implications marked by spotty
records, instead of the gloriously explicit document we had hoped to find.

If we know that potentially relevant records exist, we should use them. If
records are unknown to us but discoverable by a thorough literature search,
we are expected to find them. Even so, research can never be complete. An
intensive search in all relevant catalogs, guides, and other finding aids
can still fail to turn up random records of potential value. Some materials
remain hidden to the world, and others are not available for public

All things considered, our task as history researchers is to learn the
sources, learn the methods, learn the standards, and apply them all as
carefully and diligently as possible.


Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG
The Evidence Series

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