[APG Public List] Genealogical Proof Standard (Was The reliabilityof federal census records for genealogi...)

Michael Hait michael.hait at hotmail.com
Tue Nov 3 20:37:04 MST 2009


Thank you for weighing in.  The confusion here is on my part, perhaps.  In my understanding of the GPS, I thought that the third step--the analysis of records and evidence--incorporated the BCG standards of evidence analysis.  These BCG standards are indeed what I was referring to; I simply mislabeled them as part of the Genealogical Proof Standard.


From: eshown at comcast.net 
Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:22 PM
To: APGpubliclist at apgen.org 
Subject: [APG Public List] Genealogical Proof Standard (Was The reliabilityof federal census records for genealogi...)

Michael wrote:

>To clarify the question in my email, I meant to ask "does my analysis of the nature of the records adhere to the standards of analysis promoted by the Genealogical Proof Standard"? Perhaps I could worded this better the first time.



Michael, I haven't had time yet to read your blog entry, but do plan to and may comment again later if I have anything to add.  In the meanwhile, I should clarify a point for the benefit of others who may have been confused by a few of the comments this evening.


The Genealogical Proof Standard does not focus on the specifics of analyzing records. There are some older guides, privately published, that imply this, but those guides were not published by BCG. An "analysis of the nature of the records" is extremely important, but this is a function of "document analysis" or "textual criticism" (EE  1.30-1.41), not the GPS. Analytical functions are also covered by _The BCG Standards Manual,_ at Standards 19-34 ("Evidence-Evaluation Standards"), but those standards are separate from the GPS.


Earlier, Jay wrote:

>Your article asks if census manuscripts meet the GPS.  I think this is not quite the right question.  I think you are really asking: what do I need to consider when evaluating information from a census manuscript?  You hit on the central problems: who gave and who recorded the information?  Did they have reason to know the facts? Did they have any motive to give false information?


To continue down the path Jay has led us on, no individual document and no one type of record can "meet the GPS" because the GPS is a five-step process. The utilization of a range of records is just the first step in that process. The questions on which Jay has quoted or paraphrased you, above, are the type of questions you should be asking about each statement in each record you use, of whatever type. 



Jeanette wrote:

>You have reopened the questions of some who think that the GPS needs some tweeking.  That's fine.  I personally believe that it could be restated better and that it is not good to try to fit a square into a round peg hole.  

>From the start of your article, it is obvious that census records are not going to actually fit into the GPS.


Jeanette, I don't understand your last sentence, above, but it leaves me wondering if some misunderstanding is the root of your disagreements with the GPS.


The statement that census records don't "actually fit into the GPS" doesn't seem to, well, fit, the framework of the GPS itself. Why do you feel they do not "fit into" the process of reaching a conclusion based on the Genealogical Proof Standard?


Census records (like any type of record) are regularly used in the research and evidence-analysis phases of our work and they regularly provide evidence upon which GPS-worthy conclusions are reached. As you proceed to say, census records contain errors, they leave us uncertain as to the identity of the informant in most cases, and they present other challenges as well. But shortcomings exist in all records. That is why the first step of the GPS calls for "reasonably exhaustive research," it's why the third step calls for a careful correlation and analysis of evidence, and it's why the fourth step calls for a resolution of any conflicting evidence.


Can you clarify?




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