Mastering Genealogical Proof – Chapter 4 Homework

July 23, 2013

Chapter Four Homework Assignment
Russ Worthington
21 July 2013

Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof , (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 33.

Book available from the publisher at

In reading this chapter, I thought I should go back to see how my genealogy database program handles my citations. I have spent a bit of time studying this, after Family Tree Maker provided us with Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) source templates.

Specifically, I used the 1940 census, here, as an example. What I had done in the past, is to determine what data was asked for in the creation of a New Source entry, then determine what data is needed to be entered in the Citation Detail and Citation Text fields.

Family Tree Maker 1940 US Census Template:

Population Schedule – United States, 1880-1940 (by Census Year and Location)

Fields Data Entry
Census Year 1940
State Pennsylvania
County Chester County
Publication number T627
Film roll number 3579
Website title
Database publisher Operations, Inc
Publisher location Provo, Utah
Database year 2012

The Reference Note below, is the output of the above.

Reference Note:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

I wanted to determine what were the results of my data entry and what was provided from within Family Tree Maker

From the Template:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

From the hidden information:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3579; digital image, (

Template Information Not used:

Database publisher
Publisher location
Database year

Reviewing Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) as the basis of the citation / reference note, I identified what I needed to include in the Citation Detail field. It is apparent that the Citation Text field information is not needed for the complete reference note.

But, to remember what information I needed to enter into the Citation Detail field, I put this in the Comment Screen for the Source template. Each new Census Template that I create, I copy and paste this from a previous Census Template.

What I put in the Comments on the Edit Template Screen:

[ civil division ]; enumeration district [ __ – __ ]; sheet number [ ___ ]; house number _; [ street name ]; family number _ ; Lines _ – _; [ person of interest ] household; accessed

This is the Citation Detail information that was entered for this example

Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012

The completed reference note looks like this, color coded below as a reminder of where the information came from in Family Tree Maker

Reference Note:

U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication
T627, roll
3467; digital image, (

To compare this to Evidence Explained, I went to the QuickCheck Model for a U.S. Census Record from

QuickCheck Model (p. 240) (Mills 2007)

Field Example
Census ID 1850 U. S. census
Jurisdiction Marian County, Iowa
Schedule Population schedule
Civil Division Lake Prairie
Page ID p. 290 (stamped)
Household ID Dwelling 151 family 156
Person(s) of interest Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp
Item Type or Format Digital image
Website Title
URL (Digital Location
Date Accessed 16 January 2006
Credit Line (Sources of this Source) Citing NARA microfilm publication M432; roll 187

1850 U.S. Census, Marion County, Iowa, population schedule, Lake Prairie, p. 290 (stamped), dwelling 141, family 156, Virgil W. and Wyatt B. Earp; digital image, ( ; accessed 16 January 2006); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 187.

Compare this example, to my example:

1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Pennsylvania, Chester County, Birmingham; enumeration district 15-3; sheet number 3-A; family number 49; Lines 31 – 34; John Marshall Highley household; accessed 06 Apr 2012; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 3467; digital image, (


(Mills 2007) Year US Census, County, State, population schedule, Jurisdiction

(Family Tree Maker) Year US Census, population schedule, State, County, Jurisdiction

Page number vs Sheet Number – 6.8 Citing Page, Folio, or Sheet Numbers, page 261 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret so say that, depending on the Census Year and Enumeration District, the form may be different.

Line Numbers – 6.7 Citing Line Numbers, page 260 (Mills 2007) has a note, that I interpret to say, if there are line numbers, they should be included, as well as the page number.

Household – can be eliminated

Citing – should be added

What is the importance of Stamped and Penned – (Mills 2007) page 270 indicates that some pages may have multiple penned numbers as well as stamped numbers on some pages. – need to re-evaluate and update as appropriate

Mastering Genealogical Proof, page 33 – 35
(Jones 2013)

But, does the above meet the standard provided by Dr. Jones, which is:

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where in the source
  5. Where is the source

I think so, but:


  1. Is the order of the information significantly important?
  2. Is the punctuation significantly important?
  3. Do either of these examples meet the “standard components” of a good Source Citation
  4. What about the use of “p. #” or “page #”, as seen in Table 1 (Jones 2013)?
  5. How important are End Notes vs Foot Notes, specifically in the way our genealogy software programs provide us?
  6. Chapter 4, page 36 (Jones 2013), figure 1, used the term “Viewed”, Appendix B used the term “Accessed”. Which one is correct?

In the panel discussion in the 21 July 2013 with DearMYRTLE, we discussed these and a couple of other issues that others had.

  1. The panel suggested that State names should be spelled out.
  2. Abbreviate where possible, terms like Not Dated to be n.d.; but should be noted somewhere the list of abbreviations being used and be consistent
  3. The order of information is not all that important, but be consistent
  4. Punctuation, was not discussed, but I will be reviewing those punctuation characters that I can control
  5. Page # or P #; like the earlier comments, be consistent
  6. The Foot Notes vs End Notes could go on for a while, but the most preferred Foot Notes for ease of reading. It should be noted that some of our genealogy database management programs will not allow the user to control this.
  7. Viewed or Accessed was more about the physical viewing of a document, while accessing was for online information being reviewed

The above two examples, Evidence Explained (Mills 2007) and Family Tree Maker, I think clearly reflect what we used for the information (Facts or Events) provided in the container (Source), but there is no indication in the reliability of the source.


Jones, Thomas W. 2013. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2007. Evidence Explained. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company.

Mastering Genealogical Proof–Find-A-Grave

July 22, 2013

There was going to be a discussion about how to cite a Find-A-Grave entry in the Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group on 21 July 2013, but the time ran out. This is not a homework assignment for Chapter 4, but merely how I handle this topic.

Since is now indexing the Find-A-Grave website, I have had some success if search results leading me to a link on The results look like this:


The name has been blanked out, but those are the details from They provide a link to “Go to website

There is a lot of discussion about the use of an “Index” or to Cite and index. What I have learned from this study of Mastering Genealogical Proof is that we should not use an index in a proof document. I totally agree with that. That said, it does not tell me that I should cite that, as a source in my genealogy datebase management software. I have chosen to do that and here is the format of my Citation, as created with the use of a Template in my program.

For this purpose, I have chosen to use an Online Database; Cemetery Derivative template, the result is: Web, “New Jersey, Find A Grave Index, 1664-2011″, database, ( Database online; accessed 20 Sep 2012. Index for Henry Russell Worthington, Jr.

Following the link from Ancestry to Find-A-Grave, or since I created the memorial on Find-A-Grave, with my photograph, I want to cite that as well. Here is a link to that memorial page:

Information from that web page is entered into my database, with the following Citation:

Russ Worthington, “Find-A-Grave”, database, Find A Grave ( Henry Russell Worthington (1916-2006) – Find A Grave Memorial# 49480185; accessed 03/08/2010.

That is using the same Template as the one from Perhaps the memorial number is not important here, but knowing the memorial number on the Find-A-Grave website, makes searching for, or getting directly to that memorial page easier. It’s a search field on the Find-A-Grave website.

What about the photograph that is there? In this case, it’s mine and I could publish it in my Ancestry Member Tree, online at However, I have a policy for all of my Find-A-Grave photographs to mark them private in my genealogy database, so they will NOT appear in my Ancestry Member Tree. I can see it locally in my database, but not online.

Civil War Registration but NO Service Records

July 15, 2013

I have blogged about this non-genealogy database management software program before. Evidentia.

Unlike those programs, it’s not about names, dates, and places, but about Sources or containers of Information.

A friend of mine gave me two pieces of paper and asked me to look up her “peeps” on The print outs were from a Civil War Registration book. She wanted to know more about these to people and the Civil War. I can do this, here I come.

I had the Name, residence, age as of 1 July 1863, born in New York. I wanted to start with me finding the same document that she gave me. Found it, using’s new search, very quickly, and there he was on line 6.


Name: James A Wake
Residence: New York
Class: 2
Congressional District: 6th
Age on 1 July 1863: 36
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1827
Race: White
Place of Birth: New York


It said the he was a Foreman.

The other person was similar, but 2 years younger and in different Congressional District.

I hadn’t seen this type of ledger book before, and didn’t even realize there was such a book. Very nice find. This should be easy., next stop. I tried searching for both James Wake and George Hendrickson. No luck in the Civil War Service Records, so I then used the Browse feature, working my way down the various options. Nothing. How can this be.

As an aside, I am struggling with Chapter 3 of Mastering Genealogical Proof book by Dr Thomas Jones and “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research.

Then I remembered a lesson that I heard a number of times, to understand the records you are looking for or seeing, to discover what they were created for and what might you find on that record collection. Back to Ancestry, found the record, then scrolled down to the page to the “About” collection name. Here is the link to this specific collection:

So, putting this collection into history, the page says in part.

About U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865

This is a collection of lists of Civil War Draft Registrations. There were four drafts between 1863 and 1865, which included 3.175 million records. Historically, the 1863 draft was one of the most tenuous moments in the Union outside of the battles fought on Northern soil. Most of the concern was due to the draft riots that took place in New York in 1863.

Note the date just before the AGE, 1863. Yeah, OK, but that doesn’t tell me why I didn’t find these two gentlemen in the Civil War Service collection on Since I was on, I looked there too. Nothing.

I did my collecting of ‘normal’ information, all sounded straight forward, BUT, there is a CLASS column. The younger one had Class 1, the older, by 2 years, had Class 2.

Back to the information about the collection.

The records are split into two different classes, Class I are those aged 20-35 as well as those 36-45 and unmarried. Class II is everyone else that registered.

The younger one was 34 as of 1 July 1863 and married, the older was 36, also married. So, the classification was correct.

Maybe the reason they didn’t show up in the Service Records is that they didn’t sign up. This was only a Registration.

It appears that one was over the age limit, with the second approaching 35, and both married.

What was the question that was posed to me? Would you find the Civil War Records for these two people? We have to have a question to answer, or why would we be searching.

My current hypothesis is that they did NOT serve in the Civil War.

Did I do an “exhaustive research”, probably NO, but there are clues, for me, that they did not serve. The full step in the Genealogical Proof Standard has the word “reasonably” in front of it.

That doesn’t mean that I am not going to stop searching, but only putting that question aside for now. I don’t consider it a brick wall, but there must be a story here somewhere. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t re-ask that question as new information is found.

Why these two names, don’t appear to be related, both from New York, but that is about it. Oh, yes, my friend. There must be a connection there somewhere.

That may be a story for another blog post.

Guessing there is more, I am entering this data, from the Source Document, into Evidentia.

Source Information U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010., accessed 12 July 2014.

Original data:

Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registrations, 1863-1865. NM-65, entry 172, 620 volumes. ARC ID: 4213514. Records of the Provost Marshal General’s Bureau (Civil War), Record Group 110. National Archives, Washington D.C.

Burial at Arlington National Cemetery

June 27, 2013

Did you ever notice how “family” issues show up at weddings and funerals? Today, for me, was one of those days.


Yesterday afternoon, Patti and I drove to south Jersey to pick Carrie and Patrick (my oldest daughter and her husband), had dinner, then drove to Washington, DC. Rosslyn, Virginia actually, because we wanted to be close to Arlington, as we needed to be at “the gate” at 8:30am and in the Administration building at 9:00. And we were early.

Backing up a bit, my uncle Americus Lamberti (Uncle Max) died on Christmas day 2012. He was a 2nd LT in the Army in World War II. Early on, we were told that he would be cremated and buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. I made is very clear to my Aunt and my brother that I WOULD BE THERE and to please let me know when.

Here is where “family” shows up. As long as I can remember, my brother was the favorite with my mother’s sided of the family, and I guess I was favored on my father’s side. After all, he had my mother’s birth surname as his middle name, and I am the III (3rd). As a family researcher, I research both sides, had found lots of stories on both sides, the “family” stuff is not an issue for me. (I don’t think)

When I was first married, I moved to Washington, DC, specifically to be near my Aunt, and your second, but new husband “Uncle Max”. Visiting them, and listening to my aunt and uncle, I got a job in DC, and would stay with the company for 30 years. My uncle and I rode the bus to and from work together with a couple of his buddies, we fished, and did other things together. My first wife was a nurse as was my aunt.

Things changed, we bought a house, had kids, they moved to North Carolina, so that my uncle could play golf, and be a ranger at Whispering Pines. They did a lot of dancing. We didn’t visit them in NC, my bad, but I had kids, we camped, had a tendency to go to where it was cooler in the summer, so only saw them on the holidays that they visited my folks.

My brother kept it touch with them, visited them, etc. Enough family “stuff”.

Back to reality. Knowing that my uncle was going to be buried in Arlington, letting my brother and aunt know about my wished, we still contacted Arlington and the funeral home about our wished to “be there”. Six months later, I get a text message from Patti that the burial was the 27th. The Funeral Home called her to let her know. Just to complete the circle, she contacted her “person” at ANC. The long and short of that is, is she had not contacted the ANC, we would NOT have been able to be part of the ceremony, as their instructions, from my Aunt, was the no one would be there. Our very helpful contact, got in touch with my Aunt, who said it was OK for us to attend. Then, I get an email from my brother, letting me know that my uncle was going to be buried today, but at 10:00am and not 9:00am.

The ceremony was awesome, the “family” was the four of us. We were thanked for being there. That made me think about how many other veterans are buried at the Arlington National Cemetery without any family there at all.

Uncle Max, Americus Lamberti, is now with his (an my Aunt’s) twin baby boys. Born and died on the same day. It was years before I even knew they existed, as I was in Vietnam when they were born. I have visited their burial plot before, was able to take my parents there, before they died.

My daughter asked me a question, who were his parents? Oops, I couldn’t answer her, as I have not done a lot of research on him. My bad. He was still alive and I didn’t ask him about his life. I know there are storied to tell, like “I wonder why HIS daughter wasn’t at the burial today?” Perhaps she was at the memorial service where he lived, but don’t think so.

I now have a mission, to do some research on Uncle Max, and have it ready for Veterans Day 2013, so that I can tell HIS story.

He is home, with his son’s, in the Arlington National Cemetery and he was buried with FULL Military Honor’s, as he deserved.



Note: There is a PS to this story.

Within an hour of posting this, I had an email from a cousin, with the 1920 Census for my Uncle AND a Find-A-Grave memorial for Uncle Max’s parents. THAT is Family. Thank you Dr. Don.

Mastering Genealogical Proof–Chapter 1 Homework

June 18, 2013

Chapter 1: Genealogy’s Standard of Proof



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

Evidentia–July 4th

June 18, 2013

As you may know, I use the program call Evidentia. It is a great Document or Source based program, where you start with the Source and the program provides the steps toward the Genealogical Proof Standard.

There is a link in the right column that will take you to the Evidentia website. Please use that link as the Evidentia Sales folk sent this special offer for me to let you know about.

Time for another affiliate only coupon code!

Between now and July 4th, your visitors can use the code JULY4 when checking out and save 20% on their order!
I will not be publicizing this coupon code – it is for the exclusive use of you – Evidentia Affiliates –  to offer your website visitors.

The code is active now, so invite your readers to take advantage of this great deal!

Evidentia Sales

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


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