SpringBoard is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 5 May 2018.

S421, Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGL℠, “Evidence Correlation: Making the Most of Your Research”

Reviewed by Angela Packer McGhie, CG®

Correlation is one of the essential elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard, so many genealogists know that it is important. Some struggle to understand “how” to go about correlating the information they have found in various records. This presentation can help. Nancy explained clearly “what” correlation is, “why” genealogists use this process, and “when” to apply it in the research process. She then demonstrated six methods on “how” to correlate evidence from a variety of records.

Nancy A. Peters, CG®, CGL℠

Nancy emphasized that analysis and correlation are two different activities. She defined correlation as “a process of comparing and contrasting information items and evidence related to a research question,” and then pointed out the guidance provided in Genealogy Standards for the two separate processes of analysis and correlation.1

The real value for those striving to learn this process was Nancy’s walk-through of the six different methods of correlating information. Her examples and brief case studies illustrated how to use each method, including:

  • Narrative account
  • List
  • Matrix
  • Timeline
  • Visuals
  • Composite Methods

Helpful examples illustrated how each method was used to compare and contrast evidence from different sources. In some cases, information from five or six different sources was compared to determine if the records all referred to the same person. Consolidating the evidence into a matrix or timeline helped to point out consistencies and differences in the details. Choosing a method of correlation depends on the evidence you have; this is a skill that requires practice to master.

If you would like to hear the case studies using these six methods of correlation, a recording of this presentation is available. It may be ordered from Playback Now www.playbackngs.com

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

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