Friday, April 15, 2011

Puzzles and proof

Most researchers have trouble with the idea that you can prove an identity or relationship even if you never find a piece of paper that says it. Even those of us who know that it's true have trouble applying it to our real-life genealogy problems.

Industrious Ohio researcher and blogger Chris Staats comes out of the recent Ohio Genealogical Society conference and in his blog takes up Tom Jones's favorite puzzle analogy for genealogical "proof," which was discussed there.

This point needs to be made more often at the grass-roots level where we all start. For the full dose, pick up a CD of Jones's lecture "Inferential Genealogy" from JAMB Productions, (it's F-95 in the Philadelphia 2008 FGS listing, and no, I don't get a commission!) or read the underlying National Genealogical Society Quarterly article, “Uncovering Ancestors by Deduction: The Husbands and Parents of Eleanor (nee Medley) (Tureman) (Crow) Overton,” NGSQ 94 (December 2006): 287-304 -- (available in good genealogical libraries or free to NGS members on the web site). And of course, you can find the Genealogical Proof Standard in all its non-metaphorical glory at the BCG web site.

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