Mastering Genealogical Proof–Chapter 1 Homework

June 18, 2013

Chapter 1: Genealogy’s Standard of Proof

MGP_StudyGroup

 

Home Work Assignment

Name: Russ Worthington


Chapter 1 exercises[1]

OK, so I am not a good student, but I will do my best with this open book exercise. I’ll attempt to answer the questions, but will try to explain what it all means to me.

1. What is genealogy?

Genealogy is a research field concerned primarily with accurately reconstructing forgotten or unknown people or identities and relationships. Many of these identities and relationships existed in the past, but genealogical research also includes living people. Genealogy emphasizes biological and marital kinships, but it also addresses adoptive, extramarital, and other kids of familial relationships within and across generations.

2. What are the GPS’s five elements?

  1. Reasonably Exhaustive search to help answer the research question
  2. Complete and accurate citations for each piece of information that help answer the research question
  3. Analysis, correlation, and comparison of sources and information that help answer the research question
  4. Resolve any and all pieces of conflicting pieces of information that help answer the research question
  5. Create a written statement or narrative that supports the answer to the research question

3. You have shared your family history with someone who wants you to omit all the proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments, including explanations of reasoning and documentation. How do you reply?

In order for our research to stand the test of time, undocumented information is mythology. However, with only documentation the reliability of that information may become questionable. Proof statements, proof arguments, proof summaries need to be included. In addition, explaining how we reached any conclusions will help improve the accuracy of our research.

4. Why can’t a genealogical conclusion be partially proved?

The five components of the Genealogical Proof Standard are interdependent and will not be able to stand on their own.

5. What is the first step in genealogical research?

Ask questions about the person or that person’s relationships that are presented in a document.

My comments:

First, I am not a professional, anything. What I have done, in the past, is to collect information about people and documenting where I found that information. I have not be one to who will say “I am a genealogist”. To me, that was a formal term that I couldn’t relate to. I was too new. I still am after about 15 years of doing this hobby. My view of a ‘genealogist’ was someone who collected names and dates at one end, or someone with a series of credentials after their name.

I learned very earlier on, about “citing your sources”. I got that piece, as I always wanted to be able to answer the question “where did you get that information from”. Why, because I was asking the same question of others research. And, I wanted to be able to go back and re-look at what I had found in that past.

I wanted to be able to create a database that I thought was somewhat reliable, and the anyone looking at my data would be able to look at what I had reported and see exactly what I saw. I also realized that these “names” had stories that might be of interest to find more about. There were “family stories” that sounded interested, but I wanted to prove or disprove those stories.

What I think I had been doing, was step one and two of the GPS process, and in a way did some analysis when comparing the data collected. But that is about as far as I got.

What this first chapter of this book told me was that genealogy is like other fields where research is involved. For me, that would be problem solving. That’s what I did before I retired. We had standards, guidelines, how to do things, and how we tried to resolve a problem. Someone would say that “something” is broken, we would try to determine what was broken and tried to fix it. If that didn’t work, re-test it, using the tools that we had.

This chapter told me, that the Genealogical Proof is like that. What I had missed was having a Question, or identify what didn’t work right. I knew how to ‘test’ what was broken, wrote down what I saw, what I did, go back and re-test to see if “it” was still broken, and continue that sequence of things until the problem was solved. Note that I said that I “wrote down” what I saw, and what I did. When I supervised others, I wanted others to do the same thing, so that I might help them resolve the problem they were working on. How can I help you if I don’t know what you did? So, my professional life, helped out, to some degree, my genealogy research.

An interesting comment in this first chapter was “no source is trustworthy in and of itself”[2] (Jones 2013) and that we deal with “sources that were imperfect the day they were created”[3] (Jones 2013). We have to interpret the evidence that we find along the way. We may have created a conclusion, but when we find new information, we should re-evaluate what was already found and ready a new conclusion. As Dr. Jones states “Our goal is to prove our conclusions”[4] (Jones 2013).


[1] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 6

[2] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 2

[3] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 2

[4] Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. page 5


Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP)–Warm Up

June 15, 2013

As some of you may know, Dr. Thomas W. Jones published a new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof and that cousin Dear MYRTLE will be holding a number of Google+ Hangouts On Air, with a number of Panelist to discuss the book, chapter by chapter. More details can be found on the Google+ Dear MYRTLE Genealogy Community.

Folks will be posting their Homework somewhere but will be available in the Dear MYRTLE Genealogy Community.

But, before I start,  I would like to put this book into context for me. Two or so years ago, this book might as well have been written in another language. The words didn’t make sense to me. I have heard lectures on the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) and I think I understand how it works. But I was missing something.

Dear MYRTLE and I were also helped start the BetterGEDCOM project, because we weren’t able to share our research. Most importantly about that exchange of information, had to do with the loss of Citation’s that were in the file. We both used two different genealogy database management programs.

The link about for BetterGEDCOM was the blog. There is also a BetterGEDCOM Wiki which was created so that end users and developers could discuss how to resolve this and many other issues. To make a very long story short, and to share the impact of that project on this book, is that a number of the developers on the wiki were using words like Conclusions, Assertions, Claims, there was even one comment where it was asked if there was a Source driven software program around.

Looking at my database, and far from perfect, I could never draw a conclusion on most information in my database. I had lots of facts and events, 95% of them were documented with Source and Citation information, but a conclusion, No way! The wiki, to me, was interesting but I didn’t understand what they were talking about.

Between BetterGEDCOM and the Mastering Genealogical Proof book, a couple of things happened. I learned about what Inferential Genealogy was about, many posts here on that topic, attending a couple of lectures by Dr. Jones, in Fairfax, Virginia, and the introduction of a Source Driven program call Evidentia. of which I have also posted about. There is a link to the Evidentia website, on the right of this page.

Dr. Jones and several other genealogist of note, helped me understand the GPS piece, but this whole notion of source base software AND some of the words being use in understanding GPS. What Evidentia did for me, what the translation of “those words” into something I can understand.

For example: Conclusion to me a “final conclusion”. But while learning how to use Evidentia, “The current hypothesis is” is a conclusion. I can live with that. As I work with that, I found it important to me to Date “the current hypothesis”. Conclusion = Current Hypothesis.

The use of the term Fact, as in my genealogy database, is another example. I record the FACTS that I find in a Source. What I should be doing, and am now doing, is looking at the Source and see what it CLAIMS to be true. Fact = Claim.

That other word, assertion, was also a mystery for me. That term and the process to make an assertion, was not something I had been doing. This SOURCE CLAIMS this to be true. The assertion assigns a Person to that Claim. Now that source may make many assertions, but each one may carry a different weight.

I think that over the years, I may have been doing some things right, but Mastering Genealogy Proof AND Evidentia will take me a long way, I think and hope. The steps in using Evidentia “walk me through” the steps that I should have been taking in the past. I think there is a difference between “thinking” about the data and actually having to enter it into the program.

The best example of this, is a known unreliable source that I have seen in the past. I disregarded that source because I could only find ONE place (source) that “talked about” a brother of Capt. John. Because I couldn’t find the brother, I discarded the source and all of the evidence (claims) it may have had in it.

I talked about that here: One Brick Wall is now dust

Finally, and I have not read the book cover to cover YET, only the first chapter, I wanted to have a problem to solve, using this book and related “home work” / open book test. In the lectures I attended with Dr. Jones, and Inferential Genealogy, I learned to have a specific goal in mind, written down. So, my goal is to break down my brick wall. That is, to Identify the parents of Capt. John Worthington (1650 – 1701).

For more information on this Group Study, please check my earlier blog post on it: Mastering Genealogical Proof–Orientation


Mastering Genealogical Proof–Orientation

June 3, 2013

MGP

Well, the study of the new book, Mastering Genealogical Proof, has begun. I have already posted a couple of items on this subject:

https://worthy2be.wordpress.com/tag/mgp_study/

That was not about the book, but the use of a genealogy software program that I hope will come in handy while reading this book. Why? One reason, I am not a student. I guess I learn by trying something, figuring out what worked or didn’t work, or learn by doing.

The Orientation for this book was hosted by my cousin DearMYRTLE. To view the orientation, please visit her YouTube Channel.

Here are a few link about this program:

GeneaWebinar Calendar – Agenda Mode (general schedule for Webinar’s and other online genealogy programs.
http://blog.geneawebinars.com/p/calendar.html

DearMYRTLE’s Genealogy Community (Google+ community for discussions)
https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/104382659430904043232

DearMYRTLE’s YouTube Channel (past Hangout’s On Air with Dear MYRTLE)
http://www.youtube.com/user/DearMYRTLE

MGP Study Group Preparation (some preparation for this Study Group)
http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2013/05/mgp-study-group-countdown-10-days-and.html

MGP Reading List Summary (see homework assignment for 16 Jun 2013)
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B0vzrkpbaGH0ajVKRmgxVWh3Wm8/edit

MGP Class Schedule
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AkvzrkpbaGH0dHRpMjJNV3FtVDZRS09iNExCOFYwTHc#gid=0

Homework Due: 16 June 2013

Right now homework is to:
Read any 4 items of your choice from the reading list.

The homework sheet for each chapter will not appear until we hold the session for that chapter.

Read chapter 1 so you can participate in the discussion.

The discussion tonight was on the  Preface of the book (pages xi- xiii)

The YouTube version of the Orientation of this book.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwXZk-HMuNQ

It seems that Dr. Jones had a similar experience with Family Research as I did. Collect those names and dates in an attempt to trace our ancestors. When I started my research, I KNEW about sources and citations. I learned to answer the question “Where did I get THAT piece of information from”. That was OK, and I continue to do that. I did get a little carried away, by “merging” other people’s information into my file, just to collect those names and dates. It didn’t take me to long to stop that. I still run across a couple of entries where there are no citations.

That got me to “mistrust” data from other people. How great it was to see that in writing from Dr. Jones. The only information, from another researcher that I use in my file, is the work of cousin’s, who ARE and WERE the genealogist in the family. They really laid the foundation for my family file. Just having that data as a starting point has been awesome. I don’t remember any data, from the cousin’s, that has been wrong. I have also added many new bits and pieces to the file to help built out, and identify the stories within the family.

They had bread crumbs and hints as to who else might be hanging around the tree, but they hadn’t made the firm connection. I have followed those hints, successfully. Oh yeah, with others to come.

I had heard a couple of terms that didn’t make sense to me, like Evidence Based software. Assertions, Conclusions, and those terms didn’t click for me, but they must be important, because they, a short time later, got connected with the term GPS. The Genealogical Proof Standard was the term, that for me, really makes sense. Like the GPS that I have in my car, it “gets me somewhere”, or gets me to where I want to go.

It wasn’t until I heard about a software program, Evidentia, did I finally understand those terms.

This book has been designed, according to the Preface, to help us (me) to understand and use the GPS. This is going to be a Journey, with the Author, and Dear MYRTLE’s community, where we can “collectively” or collaboratively understand genealogical methodology and reasoning.

When I read “brick walls were permanent barriers” I knew what he was talking about. I guess I get distracted enough, trying to find other people, that I didn’t keep beating my head against that brick wall and give up. I just went in another direction.

How am I, with very little hope of ever visiting England, going to figure out WHO “Capt.” John Worthington’s (1650-1701) parents were. In an earlier study on Inferential Genealogy, also by Dr. Jones, That was the question that I have had in front of me. And now about 15 years later, as I was preparing to study this book, I am pretty sure WHO they are.

I am going to use Evidentia and this book, to help prove who I think is Capt John’s parents are.

I mentioned mistrusting information earlier, while in Salt Lake City, UT earlier this year, I found the actual book on a Mistrusted source of information. There were a couple of good hints, but other data that I couldn’t confirm, so I had basically discarded that book as being a good source. So at some level, I had evaluated the information on Capt John, but discarded it. Going back, I looked again. The words didn’t change, BUT, on the same book shelf was another book that had some additional information. So, the first book looked better, but something still wasn’t right.

To make a long story short, the “bad source” book had some hints, that lead to the 2nd and a 3rd book, that got me back into England, about the right time period, right place, but still not Capt John. Then, some new records came Online and a 5 page letter from the Worthington Family History Society, of which I am a member, will help me build the family.

My plan for this Study Group, is to use this book, to help me confirm who Capt John’s Parents are.

When I have given a presentation about how I research, I try to make two points. 1) Not everything is online, and 2) You must have Patience. I generally add “Yet” to the not everything is online, and use Patience about every other bullet point in a presentation.

I am excited about this journey and I hope to post our homework assignments here. Probably more for my benefit then anyone else, but I  am willing to share that experience based on the way I learn. Who knows, it may also help me create a presentation to share with others.

Dr. Thomas W. Jones,  PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA., Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013.


Initial Proof Report

May 13, 2013

Continuing the use of Evidentia for the study of Mastering Genealogical Proof.

Previously I had identified a Source, created a Citation, documented the claims of the source, defined the quality of the source. The next step is to Evaluate the assertion’s so far.

Evidentia – Assigning Claim to Subject

As I have done in earlier posts, I reviewed the Training Video by Evidentia.

Evidentia – Getting Started – Part 4

Clicking on Analyze Evidence brings up this screen, where I selected Charles Worthington from the pull down menu. Since he only had one claim, I select that one, Birth, in this case.

What IS important on this screen, is that there are TWO required steps that need to be completed. In my example, I had done that in the earlier blog posts. One is to Classify the Source, which I did, as an Authored Work, and two, to provide the Information Quality. Again, in this case, it’s Secondary as the person presenting the information obtained the information second hand.

Evdentia-D-01

The next step will be to select a Classification.

This is Indirect Evidence, to me, and my analysis is entered in the Analysis field. It’s preliminary information, but a place to start.

Evdentia-D-02

Evidentia allows for Research Notes. There is an ICON, as indicated below, that will bring up the Research Notes (or To Do Lists) as reminders of what needs to be found.

Evdentia-D-03

Below are two entries. On the left, is one that was already entered. Note that there is a Date, Time stamp that is automatically added by the program.

On the right, is what needs to be found, with more details of what is needed below.

Evdentia-D-04

Clearly, for this example, more information is needed to draw any conclusions. However, I will start drafting a Proof Statement.

Entering and Saving the Proof Summary, there will be a Proof option available, going forward, on the Birth of Charles Worthington. The initial Proof Summary was created, the Research Notes ICON has changed color, indicating that there ARE research notes, and I put a Check Mark in the “Inconclusive” box, as a reminder that I’m not done.

Evdentia-D-05

There is a report that can be generated on where this claim stands, as a Genealogical Proof Report.

Evdentia-D-06

A Summary of the Findings, Itemized Research Findings, Recommendations for Continuing, and End Notes. So far, One Assertion, from One Source has been considered in evaluating this claim. Its only a start.

Below is the text version of the above report.

Note: I have copied and pasted this information, into my genealogy database program, for the Birth Fact, Source Notes for Charles Worthington.

Genealogical Proof Report for the Birth of Charles Worthington (1)

Summary of Findings

13 May 2013 – Initial conclusion is that Charles Worthington (1) was born in 1701 following the death of his father. More complete information is required

Itemized Research Findings

1 assertions from 1 sources were considered in evaluating this claim.

The Pedigree Chart MA – John Worthington (Art: M 5) (1) asserts that Charles Worthington was born in 1701 posthumously. The source reviewed was an Authored work, introducing the risk of errors in interpretation. The information is believed to be Secondary (meaning the person providing the information received that information second hand, from another person or work). The evidence supporting the claim is considered Indirect (meaning the evidence is implied, circumstantial or fails to answer the whole question).

Initial information on the Birth of Charles Worthington. Only the birth year of 1701 was provided in this source.

The source also indicates that he was born following the death of his father also in 1701.

Primary documentation is required to draw a conclusion, but it is a place to start.

Recommendations for Continuing

  • Pedigree MA only indicates the birth year of 1701, following the death of his father.
  • Pedigree MA does not include the location of his birth. It might be Anne Arundel County, Maryland as that is Residence Information provided in that source

End Notes

W Peter Pearre and Addison Worthington; 17th Century Project; , {The Knoll House, Knossington, Oakham, Rutland, LE15 8LT, }London, England, 2011.

13 May 2013
Evidentia© 2012-2013

 

Note: For the purpose of the study of Mastering Genealogical Proof, I intend on doing this type of work, on those people and facts, that will help me answer the question: Who are the parents of John Worthington (1650-1701)?


Evidentia – Assigning Claim to Subject

May 13, 2013

My previous blog post:

Entering first Source into Evidentia

As I continue to work with Evidentia, I first reviewed:

Evidentia – Getting Started – Part 3

In the previous blog post, I had an Claim for Francis Worthington and Sarah Byrom (not seen below) as parents of John Worthington. I had classified that claim as Secondary. Hovering the cursor in that 3rd column will explain to “Double-click to open Attach Subject screen”.

Evdentia-C-03

Then double clicked in the Assign Subject field which will bring up this screen.

Evdentia-C-01

In the Claim Type pull down menu, I select Child[ren] and selected John Worthington (2) from the menu, because I had already entered him into this database previously. If the name wasn’t there, it can be added. A note about the (2) following his name shortly. It is merely to help me to know which John Worthington I am talking about. When his name is selected, there will be a number in the “Ref No” field.

There will be a later blog post to show how this report was created, but the text in the red box is what Is important. It says “asserts that Francis Worthington and Sarah Byrom was the parents of John Worthington”.

Evdentia-C-02

More on that later.

To show the Claim Type Screen, I selected the claim of Francis Worthington’s death. The pull down menu will provide a series of the “normal” facts or claims that we might find.

Evdentia-C-04

Same with the Name, the pull down menu will allow us to Select the right person. Only enter an individual name one time. As before, I have a (4) by Francis. Will cover that shortly.

Evdentia-C-05

In the List Manager screen is where those ID’s can be entered. Clicking on List Manager on the left will bring up the Subject Screen. On this screen is where the sex of the person can be added AND the Reference Number (Ref. No.).

Evdentia-C-06

For this file, I am selecting Charles Worthington (born posthumously) in 1701 as the #1 person. His father, John, will be 2, his mother will be 3. But, in the example above, there is another Charles Worthington. He was born and died prior to Charles Worthington (1), and was the 5th Child of John and Sarah Worthington, so his Ref No is 2e. That way I can tell the difference between the two Charles’.

Charles has 5 siblings. So, I as a letter after the father’s number, or 2a. As it turns out, 2a is John Worthington, the son.

Sarah Howard remarried, so I added 3a has is Reference Number.

John Worthington (2) is my primary person, so Francis Worthington will be 2×2 or 4 and Sarah Byrom will be 4 + 1 or 5. The usual Father being double of the persons number and the Mother the father’s number plus 1.

I have chosen to add a letter following the father’s number for the children. But you may want to define your own numbering system.

As before, more details on how to generate this report will come later. But this clearly shows the difference in people and their claims, Like John Worthington (2) and John Worthington (2a).

Evdentia-C-07

Below are all of the Claims that were included in that Citation.

Evdentia-C-08

So, the Data has been Entered, and the Claims from the Source have been assigned to a Subject. As the Video mentions, the subject does not have to be a person. For my purposes, at least at this point, the subject will be people.


Entering first Source into Evidentia

May 12, 2013

This is the third post in a series on how I plan on using Evidentia in the study of a book. The first was:

Preparation for the Study of Mastering Genealogical Proof where I entered the book title into Evidentia

The instructions on how I did this, was after watching Evidentia – Getting Started – Part 1 – YouTube. Then I followed up with how I wanted to create this new database and save it to Dropbox.

Evidentia Filename and it’s location

Now it’s time to enter the first source. Again, the developers of Evidentia have another YouTube video:

Evidentia – Getting Started – Part 2

In my case, I will use a Pedigree Chart that I have received from the Worthington Family History Society. This chart is one in a series created for the Worthington 17th Century Project. The person of interest is John Worthington (in the red box)

Evdentia-B-01

What I know of this project, there are a team of individuals who have researched old English Records, and created these Pedigree Charts. At least one researcher created it, but usually there were two in the creation of these charts, then at least two other people who examined the chart and associated records, then Proved these charts. Its just that these charts do not have any source and citation information on the charts.

Since I have already found one of the original records, as I reported here:

Day One–Searching in Lancashire, England

I figured that I created this database in my genealogy program, I could find the documentation myself, online, while I wait for any additional information that I might receive from the project.

Since my goal is to Identify John Worthington’s Parents, I will use this chart to do so. It may not be clear on this chart, but his parents are listed as Francis Worthington and Sarah Byrom. I want to prove, or disprove that claim. What I will do, is to use this 2nd video, for my instructions, and use it to added the information in this blog post. For me, I need to do this one step at a time, while I learn to use Evidentia.

I created the Source, as I did in the earlier blog post on Mastering Genealogical Proof, and started a Citation on this Pedigree Chart. In the video, +Ed Thompson used a Google Book, and I will be using this Pedigree Chart, and a specific person.

Pedigree Chart MA – John Worthington (Art: M 5)

Evdentia-B-02

Each person of interested, in these charts have an “Art” or Article number. That helps keep track of all of the “John Worthington’s” in these charts. So, I now have the Source, I want to add the Claims that are presented in this Source.

In the video, Ed talked about an Always On Top screen that is very helpful when transcribing information from a source. I learned this trick, not a trick but a great feature, when I used Evidentia earlier. You get that screen with the 3rd ICON under Classification of the Claim. It looks like a pencil. Maybe hard to see on this screen, but very helpful.

Evdentia-B-03

So now, I will bring up that Pedigree Chart and transcribe what is on the Chart, into that Always On Top window, one Claim at a time.

I see that John Worthington resided in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. So, in the window I type “John Worthington resided in Anne Arundel County Maryland. That is a claim or assertion that is being made.

Evdentia-B-04

 

The Claim screen, we are to “Complete this sentence The source asserts that …”

Evdentia-B-05

That is what goes into that Always On Top window.

I continue to enter each claim that I can see on that Pedigree pertaining to John Worthington. Like his wife, Sarah Howard, some information about her, his children that are listed in the bottom line of the Pedigree Chart, and information about Francis Worthington, his father, and Sarah Byrom his mother. Its this last to items that I want to prove or disprove. I am NOT going to rely on this Chart to reach a conclusion that Francis and Sarah Worthington are John’s parents. But this is a good start.

.Evdentia-B-06

The center column about is to determine the Classification of the Source. I concluded that this source is Secondary, in that no one, creating, examining, or providing the Chart had direct knowledge of this event, but were looking at some sort of record about the event. Those are the records I want to find and see.

Evdentia-B-07

So, each Claim, I marked as Secondary.

One of the reports, that is available, is to show a list of all of the Claims from this Source that I entered with this citation.

Evdentia-B-08

At this point, the data entry, into Evidentia, is complete.

The real benefit for me, of Evidentia, is not the data entry, I can do that into my genealogy database, but the next step that Evidentia does is to force (used in a very positive way) me to EVALUATE each claim or assertion to help draw a conclusion.

More to follow.


Evidentia Filename and it’s location

May 10, 2013

In my previous blog post, Preparation for the Study of Mastering Genealogical Proof I mentioned that I was creating a new Evidentia database for this study.

To do that, I brought up Evidentia, and clicked on the Options Menu.

Evidentia-MGP-10

This will bring up a window where you can see any existing databases and their location. I am going to select Create New Database.

Evidentia-MGP-11

Below this part of the screen, is a list of other Evidentia databases that I have on my computer.

For this database, I am going to be using Dropbox to save this database.

Evidentia-MGP-12

The name of the file is MGP and it’s located in my Dropbox \ Evidentia folder.


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