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

eshown at comcast.net eshown at comcast.net
Wed Nov 4 18:10:49 MST 2009

Jeanette wrote:
>Helen accepted the false birth date information available on the Internet for Thomas Jefferson's brother's children were rumored to have fathered Sally Heming's children instead of Thomas Jefferson.    
Jeanette, there seem to be one or more words missing from this sentence, above, so I may be misinterpreting your intent. However, “accept[ing] false birth date information available on the Internet” is something I have never known Helen F. M. Leary to do in the 30 years I’ve known her!
>There were a couple of weak spots in the article where Helen tried to explain her rationale for the conclusions she didn't have sources to back up. 
As her editor on this article (which, of course, was vetted pre-publication by several other experts in that region and era), I hope when you get back home that you will take a few minutes to identify these “conclusions she didn’t have sources to back up.” 

I do recall the paper that your students produced when they “redid” Helen’s research, using sources that Helen also analyzed at length; and, as you may recall after you kindly shared a copy of that with us, there were some conclusions your students reached that we did not agree with. As I recall, too, there were resources available to Helen onsite in Virginia and North Carolina that were not available to your students in Salt Lake City.
It is quite possible that we simply have “a couple of … spots” in which different individuals interpret the evidence in different ways. But, of course, that is why the Genealogical Proof Standard requires a written argument. When we thoroughly identify all the records we used, carefully detail the content of those records, explain our interpretations of their information, provide a point-by-point correlation of all pieces of the evidence, and then assemble a case that explains our reasoning on each point, others can redo our research and reach a conclusion as to whether they agree or disagree with our argument. And, of course, when two or more genealogists reach different conclusions about an issue and all offer well-done proof arguments, then interested “third parties” can make their own comparative judgments.
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