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Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It
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The objective of this course is to teach you how to make an effective research plan. It builds on the skills learned during the basic and intermediate level Methodology Courses:

At the Basic stage, during Methodology–Part 1: Getting Started and Methodology–Part 2: Organizing Your Research we described some of the many ways to approach your genealogical project. Many basic sources and avenues for research were discussed and correct transcription and citation of sources were emphasized.

At the Intermediate level the student was introduced to different methods of managing projects. In Methodology–Part 3: More Strategies we covered:

  • Setting goals and envisioning end-products.
  • Gathering, storing and organizing information.
  • Organizing the home base and the research process.
  • Strategies for research planning.
  • The concepts of sources and information.

    In Methodology–Part 4: Effective Searching and Researching the focus was on:

  • Finding what research has already been done on your family.
  • How to record properly from the main sources (family, vital statistics, census, religious registers, probate and land records.
  • Presentation and preservation of your research.

    Methodology–Part 5: How to Prove It considers in depth the many possibilities and pitfalls involved in proving your pedigree in a professional manner. The first two modules on Theory concentrates on the meaning of proof in genealogy, delves deeply into sources, information and evidence and concludes with construction of hypotheses and theories. The third and fourth modules are involved with Technique including pedigree analysis, family reconstruction, use and abuse of indexes, negative proof, documentation and the phenomena of serendipity and intuition. The final modules are devoted to Problem Solving where we learn how to deal with problems with starting information, assumptions, problems with records, conflicting evidence, name changes, finding the right parish, migration, age problems, illegitimacy, bigamy & other marital anomalies, female ancestors and the disappearance of paupers. This comprehensive treatment prepares the student exceptionally well for the research process.


    Course Content

    Module 1
     
    Theory
     
    Meaning of Proof
    • Concepts of Fact, Deduction & Assumption
    • Necessary Proof or Sufficient Proof?
    • What is Proof in Genealogy?
    • Three Pedigree Linkages
     
    Required Level of Proof in Genealogy
    • Preponderance of Evidence
    • Beyond Reasonable Doubt
    • The Genealogical Proof Standard–Clear, Cogent & Convincing
     
    Sources, Information & Evidence
    • Physical Types of Sources
    • Reliability Categories of Sources
    • Reliability of Sources
     

    Module 2
     
    Theory ... Continued
    • Kinds of Information
    • Kinds of Evidence
    • Selection of Evidence Used in Proof
    • Constructing Hypotheses & Theories from the Evidence
     
    Value of Previous Research
    • Scriptures
    • Legends, Oral Traditions & Ancient Pedigrees
    • Royal Pedigrees from Charlemagne Onwards
    • Mid 19th to 20th Centuries
    • Technological Age
     
    Unprovable Links
     

    Module 3
     
    Technique
    General Advice
     
    Focussing a Search for Evidence
    • Pedigree Analysis Step 1 - Organizing Known Facts
    • Pedigree Analysis Step 2 - Making Estimations
    • Pedigree Anaylsis Step 3 - Estimates Added
     
    Family Reconstruction
    Killing Them Off
     

    Module 4
     
    Technique ... Continued
     
    Use & Abuse of Indexes
    Negative Proof
     
    Documentation
    • Description of Source
    • Record All Relevant Items
    • Images of Significant Items
     
    Go Sideways
    Know About & Use Alternative Sources
     
    Serendipity & Intuition
    • What Is Serendipity?
    • What Is Intuition?
    • Examples of Serendipity & Intuition
    • How Does Serendipity Work?
     

    Module 5
     
    Probelm Solving
    Problems with Starting Information
     
    Assumptions a.k.a. Presumptions
    • Fundamental Assumptions
    • Valid Assumptions
    • Unsound Assumptions
     
    General Problems with Records
    • Non-existent Sources
    • Cannot Find Sources
    • Cannot Find an Entry
    • Record Insufficient
    • Clerks' Inaccuracies
    • Inaccurate Published Pedigrees
    • Illegible Writing
    • Information Seen But Not Understood
    • Damaged Records
    • Gaps In The Records
    • Incorrect Transcriptions
    • Records Altered
    • Family Did Not Use Usual Records
    • Have You Been Thorough?
     
    Conflicting Evidence
     
    Name Changes
    • Spelling Variations
    • First Name Variations
    • First Name Changes
    • Surname Variations
    • Surname Changes On Immigration
    • Legal Means of Changing a Name
     

    Module 6
     
    Probelm Solving ... continued
     
    Finding The Right Parish
    • Understanding Indexes
    • Birthplaces
    • Using Maps & Gazetteers
     
    Migration & Movement
    • Emigration & Immigration
    • Movement Within a Country
     
    Age Problems
    llegitmacy
    Bigamy
    Proscribed Marriage
     
    Female Ancestors
    • Two Wives Named Sarah?
    • Sources for a Woman's Life Story
    • Matrilinear Descent – the New Order?
     
    Paupers Disappearing
    • Apprenticed Out of the Home Parish
    • Removal to Parish of Settlement
    • Service in the Army, Militia, or Navy
    • Runaways
     
    If all Else Fails, Write an Article!
     
    The Research Plan
    References & Further Reading
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