Mastering Genealogical Proof (MGP)–Warm Up

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


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