About two and a half years ago, in my National African American Genealogy Examiner column, I wrote a post called, “What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?”
The GPS recognizes, as you will discover in your own research, that genealogy research often leaves unanswered, and unfortunately unanswerable, questions. Not every fact can be proven with a simple statement on a document. However, through the use of the GPS, and indeed through practice, you can be sure that your conclusions are as close as possible to the truth.
The Genealogical Proof Standard is a set of guidelines by which researchers can judge the thoroughness of their research and analysis, and the reliability of their conclusions.
My understanding of the Genealogical Proof Standard has grown further in the past few years. Over the next week or so, I would like to discuss the Standard as well as how to apply it to your research. Each post (and occasionally more than one) will discuss one or more of the conditions of the Genealogical Proof Standard:
1. Conduct a “reasonably exhaustive search” for all information that is or may be pertinent to the question for which you are seeking an answer.
2. Completely and accurately cite every source of information discovered in this search.
3. Analyze and correlate the collected information to assess its quality as evidence.
4. Resolve any conflicts caused by contradictory items of evidence or information contrary to your conclusion.
5. Arrive at a “soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.”
I hope you enjoy the coming posts.
 Michael Hait, “What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?,” in National African American Genealogy Examiner, posted 15 May 2009 (http://www.examiner.com/african-american-genealogy-in-national/michael-hait : accessed 20 Nov 2011).
For more information, see
Board for the Certification of Genealogists, The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (Orem, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2000).
Brenda Dougall Merriman, Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians (Toronto, Canada: Ontario Genealogical Society/Dundurn Press, 2010).
Christine Rose, CG, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, Third Revised Edition (San Jose, Calif. : CR Publications, 2009).
Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, Quicksheet: Genealogical Problem Analysis- A Strategic Plan- Evidence! Style (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010).