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

Jeanette Daniels jeanettedaniels8667 at yahoo.com
Tue Nov 3 21:35:35 MST 2009


I was answering what I thought Michael's question was.  I was not actually running through all the steps of the GPS because I don't think that census records or other sources can be analyzed to fit the GPS.  That's why the comment about trying to put something square into a round hole.

It is the research done with multiple sources that needs to apply to the GPS.  My problem with GPS is the statement "reasonably exhaustive search."  I have found too many people who think that they have done that when, in fact, they have done very little research into a genealogical problem.  Faulty conclusions have been made and genealogies have been written incorrectly because of someone's interpretation of "reasonably exhaustive search."  

I'll give an example without telling who wrote the article.  Some years ago, I was searching my ancestor, Charity Hanson.  She is my 7th great grandmother.  Her brother, John Hanson, became quite famous in early United States history.  I found an article in The American Genealogist that listed four sources and claimed that John's ancestry was incorrect (didn't explain why) and blasted the research of another person who had written the ancestry of the famous John Hanson.  Long story short, the author who blasted the other author was correct that the information in several published histories claiming Swedish ancestry for John Hanson, was wrong.  However, he did not provide proof of why this was wrong.  Instead, he created his own false genealogy, claiming that John Hanson had to be a descendant of John Hinson, an indentured servant from England.  He took someone who lived many miles away from where the famous John Hanson was known to be born in
 Maryland, grabbed someone with a similar name, actually a possible spelling variation, and declared him to be the famous John Hanson's grandfather.  It was quite the leap but the author claimed to have done the research needed to make the declaration.

I searched both Swedish records in colonial North America and Swedish royalty records in Sweden, early colonial records, and anywhere that Scandinavians lived that could have come very early into Maryland.  I also searched the four sources listed by the author of the article in TAG.  I looked carefully at John Hinson and sources that existed for him.  I just couldn't see the connection.  

After searching through much more than what is listed above, I found John Hanson Dane,(old enough to be the grandfather of the famous John Hanson) living in the same area that the famous John Hanson was born in.  He was traced, his children found in the right area of Maryland, etc.  

While trying to trace the famous John Hanson's ancestry back further, I looked in all the areas of colonial North America where Danish people could have lived in the 1600s.  I searched the New York settlements because the Danish navy and Dutch navy had a treaty and trained together during this time.  They came together to New York.  I eliminated that possibility.  I searched the Swedish colonies early into Pennsylvania and Delaware.  John Hanson Dane did not come through that group.  

Then I searched records of the West Indies.  Denmark had established a colony there.  I searched through the early records of the Danish West Indies and found a sailor named Jens Hansen Dansch.  He lived in the West Indies through the early to mid 1670s.  By 1677, he disappeared from the West Indies and John Hanson Dane, lived in Maryland by 1678.  He lived in the same location in Maryland that the famous John Hanson lived by the early 1700s.   I won't go into the other research and I know this is a choppy explanation.  Jens Hansen Dansch, translates to John Hanson Dane.    

The author of the TAG article, obviously didn't know anything about Scandinavian research and didn't do an "reasonably exhaustive search."  This author's article has been quoted over and over again.  The author is well-known in genealogical circles so I won't say more.

I obviously had more of an interest than the author I am referring to because I am an actual descendant of John Hanson Dane.  I wanted to trace my genealogy correctly and when the information in the TAG article wasn't my idea of "reasonably exhaustive" research, I searched until I knew I had the right ancestor.  


From: "eshown at comcast.net" <eshown at comcast.net>
To: APGpubliclist at apgen.org
Sent: Tue, November 3, 2009 8:22:13 PM
Subject: [APG Public List] Genealogical Proof Standard (Was The reliability of 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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