Subscribe FAQ Terms of Use
Certificates Courses Course Calendar Packages Registration Consultation Appointments
My Briefcase Help! How Do I?
Virtual Learning Room Links Forms Comments by Students
Faculty & Consultants Graduates Contact Us Our Background We Need Your Help

Methodology - Part 5: How To Prove It
Register (Fees/Dates)
Other Info
NOTE: This course requires compulsory materials to be ordered. Please click on the Supplies tab for details.

The objective of this course is to teach you how to make an effective research plan and how to establish proof in your research. It builds on the skills learned during the basic and other intermediate level Methodology Courses.

This course considers in depth the many possibilities and pitfalls involved in proving your family history 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 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 location, migration, age problems, illegitimacy, bigamy and other marital anomalies, female ancestors, and the disappearance of paupers. This comprehensive treatment prepares the student for the research process and writing out the research results and conclusion of analysis to establish proof.

Course Content

Module 1
How To Prove It
Required Reading
Where to Begin?
Meaning of Proof
Concepts of Fact, Deduction & Assumption
• Fact
• Deduction by Logic
• Unsound Assumptions
Necessary Proof or Sufficient Proof?
What is proof in genealogy?
• Proving Relationships
Required Level of Proof in Genealogy
• Preponderance of Evidence
• Beyond Reasonable Doubt
• Clear, Cogent & Convincing > The Genealogical Proof Standard
Understanding Sources
• Types of Sources
• Categories of Sources
• Original, Derivative & Authored Sources
• Reliability of Sources
• Reliability of Derivative Sources
• Reliability of Authored Sources
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 2
Theory ... Continued
Required Reading
Sources, Information & Evidence
• Categories of Information
• Primary, Secondary & Undetermined Information
• Types of Evidence
• Direct, Indirect & Negative Evidence
• Selection of Evidence Used in Proof
Constructing Hypotheses & Theories from the Evidence
Value of Previous Research
• Scriptures
• Legends, Oral Traditions & Ancient Pedigrees
• The Internet
Unprovable Family Connections

Module 3
Required Reading 
General Advice
Focussing a Search for Evidence
Pedigree Analysis
Family Reconstruction
FAN Club / Cluster Research
Killing Them Off

Module 4
Technique ... Continued
Use of Indexes
• When searching indexes
• Description of Source
• Record All Relevant Items
• Images of Significant Items
Go Sideways
Know & Use Alternative Sources
Serendipity & Intuition
• What Is Serendipity?
• What Is Intuition?
• Examples of Serendipity & Intuition
• How Does Serendipity Work?
Recommended Reading

Module 5
Problem Solving
Required Reading
Types of Problems
• Problems with Starting Information
• Assumptions - a.k.a. Presumptions
• General Problems with Records
• Conflicting Evidence
• Name Changes
Recommended Reading & Resources

Module 6
Probelm Solving ... continued
Finding The Right Geographic Location
• Understanding Indexes
• Birthplaces
• Using Maps & Gazetteers
• Migration & Movement
Age Problems
Proscribed Marriage
Delayed Marriage
Female Ancestors
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!
Recommended Reading & Resources 
Bring The Proof Together In Writing
Required Reading 
Putting It Together
Putting the Proof in Writing
Recommended Reading & Resources 

   Copyright © 1999-2023, International Institute of Genealogical Studies. All Rights Reserved.