Conclusions and Baby Steps
This is the syllabus for one of a series of classes taught by Robert Raymond and represents his private opinions. Suggestions for changes should be made on this page's Discussion page.
“Baby steps” is a system of self evaluation and self improvement. It focuses on five aspects of the evidence analysis process: sources, information, evidence, conclusions, and citations.
Where does conclusions fall in the evidence analysis process? From sources we find information. From information we select evidence. From evidence we make conclusions. Our conclusions contain citations. And citations point back to our sources.
Read through the following table to see how a person might typically improve over time in their use of conclusions. Think about which level best describes you. At the conclusion of the class, set a goal to improve as explained in “Genealogical Maturity.”
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map, laminated study guide (Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2006).
|1.||Entry||Accepts without thought or hesitation the first existing conclusion found.|| |
|2.||Emerging||Makes conclusions based upon minimal research and minimal reasoning, based upon a single piece of poorly documented, direct evidence.|| |
|3.||Practicing|| Makes conclusions based upon several sources found after moderate research, with reasoning and documented direct evidence, sometimes resolving contrary evidence.|
|4.||Proficient||Forms conclusions “based on well-reasoned and thoroughly documented evidence gleaned from sound research.”|| |
|5.||Stellar||Additionally, publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.|| |
INSERT REMAINDER OF SYLLABUS HERE
Using the table at the start of this handout, and using what you learned in class today, set a small, baby step improvement goal. See Genealogical Maturity for more information.
Advancing from level to level requires continuing education. Avail yourself of these resources:
- Online tutorials and guides: FamilySearch, National Genealogical Society, and others are listed on the NARA website.
- State and regional conferences: Utah Genealogical Association, Family History Expos, and many more.
- National Conferences: National Genealogical Society, Federation of Genealogical Societies, and RootsTech.
- Intensive week-long study programs called genealogical institutes: SLIG (Salt Lake), British Institute (Salt Lake), NIGR (D.C.), and GRIP (Pittsburgh).
- Academic genealogical journals: National Genealogical Soceity Quarterly, NEHGS Register, etc.
- Society Magazines: NGS Magazine, etc.
- At home university degrees or courses: Brigham Young University, Akamai University, GenealogicalStudies.com, Boston University, and the Insititute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies.
Recommended Books about Sources, Information, Evidence, Conclusions, and Citations.
- Greenwood, Val D. The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd edition. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1990. In particular, see chapter 4.
- Leary, Helen F. M., ed. North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. 2nd edition. Raleigh: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996. The first section is applicable to research anywhere. Because of the cost, I recommend this book only for those doing research in southern states.
- Merriman, Brenda. Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians. 3rd edition. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2010. Lacks an index.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997. Not as good as Evidence Explained, but cheaper.
- Mills, Elizabeth Shown Mills. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Second edition. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009. For the evidence analysis process, read the 26 pages of chapter 1.
- Rose, Christine. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case. 3rd revised edition. San José, California: CR Publications, 2009.
- Rose, Christine and Kay Germain Ingalls. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy. 2nd edition. New York: Alpha Books, 2005.
- Rubincam, Milton. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1987.
- Stevenson, Noel C. Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof, revised edition. Laguna Hills : Aegean Park Press, 1989. The use of legal terminology is outdated, but the research methodology is still good.
- Szucs, Loretto Dennis and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, editors. The Source. Third edition. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006.
- Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), 820.