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Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard (3 Part Series)



*This is a three-part series exploring how to use the Genealogical Proof Standard in your family history research.

To instill confidence in other family researchers that the data in your shared family tree is sound, "each conclusion about an ancestor must have sufficient credibility to be accepted as "proved." Acceptable conclusions, therefore, meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS)."  --Board for Certification of Genealogists

Life is good for the family historian with dozens of records containing direct evidence. Accurate and complete marriage certificates that list the marriage date, full legal names, and the names of each set of parents can be more valuable than a shoe box full of money in the search for a missing ancestor.

“Direct evidence is awesome,” said James Ison at the RootsTech 2016 conference. “A birth certificate will list the name of parents. It’s direct evidence. It answers a question. A marriage license will say what the bride’s maiden name is. A baptismal record will say the dates and the places of birth—just exactly what we want.”

But what do you do when direct evidence isn’t available?

Seasoned genealogists know that direct evidence records only last so long. At some point, all researchers face a situation where bits and pieces of indirect evidence is available, and when this happens, progress can hit a massive speed bump and careen to a halt.

Part One: Understanding the Genealogical Proof Standard