Coming Soon from OnBoard, September 2017

OnBoard: Newsletter of the Board for Certification of Genealogists is scheduled to publish in September 2017. We’re pleased to offer a preview of some of its content.

OnBoard Masthead-Sept2017“Using Proof by Contradiction to Focus your Research”

Applying the third element of the Genealogical Proof Standard,1 Yvette Hoitink, CG, shows how creating and testing hypotheses for contradictions can keep our research on the right path. She offers a step-by-step example of combining historical context and negative evidence to evaluate three hypotheses for the identities of a seventeenth-century Dutch property owner’s heirs.

“Finding the Truth in the Undocumented Story”

Family stories make our history come alive. Whether it’s sensational tales of family feuds and black sheep, or simply the everyday lives of ancestors, most genealogists come across an undocumented story in family research. Gail Jackson Miller, CG, provides us a framework for critically analyzing our undocumented stories to draw out the truth. She explains how using her family story about the murder of Cotton Davis.

OnBoard publishes three issues per year. A subscription is included in annual associate fees and is provided to applicants “on the clock.” Subscriptions are also available to the general public for $15.00 per year (currently) through the BCG website, here <http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/bcgitems.html>. Issues back to 1995 can also be ordered online, here <http://www.bcgcertification.org/catalog/backordlst.html>.

 

1 Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn.: Ancestry.com, 2014), 1–2.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

Skillbuilding, NGS 2017: Miller’s “The Genealogical Proof Summary”

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2017 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 12 May 2017.

F341, Gail Jackson Miller, CG, “The Genealogical Proof Summary: What It Is and Is Not”

Reviewed by Jean Atkinson Andrews, CG

LiveStream Description: Learn to logically organize and present your evidence to meet current standards. Improve and simplify this important step in the research process.

How many of us have randomly collected everything on an ancestor, only to find later that much of it did not apply, or that we had answers to our questions in our already collected information? Many researchers resist writing proof documents because they believe it takes too much time away from collecting stuff.

Gail Jackson Miller, CG

Gail Jackson Miller, CG

Gail Jackson Miller’s lecture might change your mind, as she shows how and why learning, using, and following the GPS method can save time, money, and improve your research results. Throughout the lecture, Miller presents simple, practical ways to bring the benefits of the GPS method into your work.

Our understanding of the past and the soundness of our conclusions increases as we obtain and analyze evidence from quality sources. GPS is a method to help understand past events and people, and writing is a critical requirement of this method.

All research fields have standards for writing and publishing findings. In today’s online world, “sharing” equals “publishing.”  Miller cautions that if it’s not good research, don’t share it! As we all know, once it is online, it NEVER goes away.

Miller explains that there is no “one size fits all” proof document. Proof documents lie along a continuum from simple statements to complex arguments. The evidence and research question to be answered decide the type of proof required. She makes it clear that the methodology for writing proof documents is useful throughout a research project. Writing as you go is the most effective and efficient method of assembling and analyzing evidence. It saves time, but most of us have learned this the hard way, when we had to go back and recreate our work or start over when we couldn’t figure out what we were doing when we left off!

“You cannot write a good Proof Summary without a good start” asserts Miller. If you have not analyzed what you already know, developed a specific research question, and placed what you know and want to know into the context of the location, laws, and customs of the period you cannot write a valid Proof Summary.

Sound hard? Gail advises that you begin the Proof Summary at the beginning of the research. As you collect and analyze the data, and write down your evidence, you are already writing your Proof Summary! Several examples, from simple to more complex, illustrate how the GPS was successfully applied to solve actual genealogical problems.

Miller reminds us that successful problem solving is the same in all research fields. Following a structured process will save time and result in more successful outcomes. Omitting or short cutting steps is a recipe for time loss or failure. Start cutting through your own brick walls with GPS tools!

Information on purchasing this lecture can be found at Playback Now www.playbackngs.com.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.

 

 

Skillbuilding, NGS 2016: Miller on Research Plans

SpringBoard, an official blogger for the 2016 National Genealogical Society (NGS) Family History Conference, is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 4 May 2016.

W151, Gail Jackson Miller, CG, “Developing a Successful and Efficient Research Plan”

Reviewed by J. Mark Lowe, CG, CGL, FUGA

Gail began her approach to research planning by comparing all research to a brick wall. The solution to every project, like a brick wall, varies, as the potential answer may not be apparent. Because the bricks along a wall may contain some answers, researchers collect groups of family trees rather than attempting a research project. Gail suggested that we look at the wall as constructed from puzzle pieces instead of bricks. This requires a closer focus, thorough analysis, and planning.

Gail Jackson Miller, CG
Courtesy Scott Stewart Photography

Gail described how we often repeat bad behaviors that are rewarded. The excitement we feel as new researchers when we find any information promotes the bad habits of collecting family trees and avoiding background study and general planning. We may be found randomly wandering in libraries or online looking for related material.
The process for family research is identical to client research, Gail explained. Both have time constraints. They both begin with a question and focus on a hypothesis that can be researched. She stated that successful problem solving is the same in all research fields. She reminded us of the steps included in a plan and stated that skipping this process will result in failure.

Our plans should be focused, while identifying the names, location, and time period of the research. Preliminary knowledge is required before beginning the research. This includes knowing the physical location of needed records, available record groups, area traditions, and more. This points us toward what we want to know, where we should look first, and determining what we already know.

Using a fictional family, Gail presented basic information about a potential ancestor. She provided a general question, and a list of known facts. She added the need to formulate the question as a testable hypothesis. Potential questions addressed the possible inheritance of the farm, the fact that the family owned a farm, and a question about the crops and livestock raised. She organized the family records chronologically and examined them for missing information. She also stressed that those records should contain complete citations on properly labeled documents that are organized in a systematic method.

Gail reminded us that too often the similarity between professional researchers and family researchers is poor planning. Most poor planning is caused by inadequate knowledge about what records were created in a particular place and time, why they were created, and where they are now.

A more complex family question including two marriage records illustrated the same ideas. Gail also shared a sloppy plan and approach to research. She then showed us why this style would cause problems and prevent answers. Great examples and authentic details defined the problems created when our organizational skills fade, and showed how clear directional efforts lead to success.

As she led us through this study, Gail reminded us that we must be persistent in our efforts and repeat the good skills we develop in research planning and execution.
Click for more information.

A recording of this lecture may be previewed and ordered from PlaybackNow.

The words Certified Genealogist are a registered certification mark, and the designations CG, CGL, and Certified Genealogical Lecturer are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists®, used under license by board certificants after periodic evaluation.