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”

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’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.