Genealogical Maturity

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Genealogical Maturity is a system of self evaluation and self improvement first proposed by the Ancestry Insider in 2009. The Genealogical Maturity model measures one's understanding and use of the Genealogical Proof Standard. and the associated Evidence Analysis Research Process Map. The model measures improvement in five categories: sources, citations, information, evidence, and conclusions.


The Genealogical Maturity model uses dictionary definitions as much as possible, with clarifications from leading genealogists.

source – 1. the origin that supplies information.[1] 2. “an artifact, book, document, film, person, recording, website, etc., from which information is obtained.”[2]

citation – 1. “citations are statements in which we identify our source or sources for…particular [information].”[3] 2. “a citation states where you found [the cited] piece of information.”[4]

information - 1. “knowledge obtained from investigation.”[5] 2. “the content of a source—that is, its factual statements or its raw data.”[6]

evidence – 1. “something that furnishes proof.”[7] 2. “information that is relevant to the problem.”[8] 3. analyzed and correlated information assessed to be of sufficient quality.[9] 4. “the information that we conclude—after careful evaluation—supports or contradicts the statement we would like to make, or are about to make, about an ancestor.”[10]

conclusion – 1. “a reasoned judgment.”[11] 2. “a decision [that should be] based on well-reasoned and thoroughly documented evidence gleaned from sound research.”[12]

Self Evaluation

The model asks that a person place a check mark next to each of the following statements that describes him or her.


# Maturity Level Sources Check
1. Entry Typically relies on compiled genealogies.
2. Emerging Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.
3. Practicing Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.
4. Proficient Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.
5. Stellar Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types. "Burned counties" are not roadblocks.


# Maturity Level Citations Check
1. Entry Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.
2. Emerging Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.
3. Practicing Typically produces complete source citations.
4. Proficient Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.
5. Stellar Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.


# Maturity Level Information Check
1. Entry Typically does not realize the need to judge information quality and has no basis for doing so.
2. Emerging Emerging realization that information quality differs. Muddles evaluation by thinking of primary/secondary sources instead of primary/secondary information, leading to muddled evaluation when sources contain both.
3. Practicing Judges information by source type, informant knowledge, and record timing. Applies "primary/secondary" to information instead of sources.
4. Proficient Additionally, learns history necessary to recognize and evaluate all explicit information in a source.
5. Stellar Additionally, utilizes implicit information in a source. Finds information in cases like illegitimacy that stump most researchers.


# Maturity Level Evidence Check
1. Entry Limited understanding of evidence and the role it plays. Typically ignores conflicting evidence.
2. Emerging Captures direct, supporting evidence and increasingly depends upon it.
3. Practicing Additionally, captures directly conflicting evidence.
4. Proficient Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, supporting evidence.
5. Stellar Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, conflicting evidence.


# Maturity Level Conclusions Check
1. Entry In the absence of analysis, reaches conclusions by instinct.
2. Emerging Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence. Emerging ability to resolve minor discrepancies.
3. Practicing Additionally, resolves conflicting evidence or uses it to disprove prevalent opinion. Usually applies correct identity to persons mentioned in sources.
4. Proficient Additionally, when necessary creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions utilizing direct and indirect evidence.
5. Stellar Additionally: Publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.

Self Improvement


  1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, online edition ( : accessed 23 November 2009), “source.”
  2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG, FUGA, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd ed. [hereinafter, EE2] (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), 828.
  3. Mills, EE2, 42.
  4. Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, FASG, quoted in The Source, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006) p. 24; citing “How Do You Know?” in Producing a Quality Family History (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996), 117.
  5. Merriam-Webster, “information.”
  6. Mills, EE2, 24.
  7. Merriam-Webster, “evidence.”
  8. Mills, EE2, 822.
  9. Christine Rose,CG, CGL, FASG,, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2005), 2.
  10. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, ed. Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG, (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2000), 8.
  11. Merriam-Webster, “conclusion.”
  12. Mills, EE2, 820.