SpringBoard is pleased to offer a review of this BCG Skillbuilding lecture, presented 4 May 2018.

F351, Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL℠, “Deeper Analysis: Techniques for Successful Problem Solving”

Reviewed by Harold Henderson, CG®

“When you write your family history – and I mean when, not if – then you want people to be able to believe it.” Elissa Scalise Powell, CG®, CGL℠, advised her Friday afternoon audience to take to heart the five criteria in the Genealogical Proof Standard: thorough research, good citations, correlation and analysis, conflict resolution, and a written conclusion.

Genealogical research strategies, she observed, often have something in common with games and puzzles, from solitaire to chess to crosswords. We need a strategy to be successful.

Having a suitcase full of documents will not advance our genealogies unless we understand, evaluate, analyze, and correlate the information in those documents. Otherwise, she warned, we may well create our own brick walls.

Techniques she discussed included proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments. Comparison charts, including those comparing two families, may mean that we trace people we’re not related to, in order to distinguish those to whom we are. Other tools for correlation include spreadsheets, family timelines, family migration maps, and comparing disparate records such as an 1800 census and an 1802 plot plan to follow the travels of a census taker. Writing a narrative can clarify our thoughts and provoke questions for further research.

Powell left her audience with both inspiration and sobering thought. Just as you cannot win a solitaire game if you’ve been dealt a bad hand, sometimes a research problem cannot be solved. But before we reach that point, try all the tools! The techniques can help us understand the information, ask the specific questions that will turn that information into evidence, and marshal the evidence to bring forth a reliable conclusion.

The presentation was enlivened with humor and recollection of some of her “baby genealogist” moments in the early days.

A recording of this lecture 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.