Monday, February 29, 2016

The 21 Day Genealogy Challenge - Day 5: Consistency and Standards

The secret of success is consistency of purpose. 
– Benjamin Disraeli

Welcome to day five of the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!  Today, we are discussing consistency and standards.  By now you have selected which genealogy program(s) you want to use to create your family tree.  It is important that you remain consistent with your trees.  If you are using a software program and an online program (or two online programs) you must attend to both.  You should never add information to one tree without adding the same information to the other.  

 In  Day Two of our challenge, you entered all the information you had at your fingertips for yourself, your parents and possibly your grandparents.  You see where you are lacking information and are now making notes in your Genealogy Journal to aid in your research.  Highlight questions you want to answer.

Now is the time to select the ancestor whose history you want to delve into.  Have you placed him or her on your tree?  Is it a grandparent?  Great grandparent?  Until you have satisfied the research needs of the ancestors leading up to the individual you have selected, you may want to wait to further research this individual.


You may feel you have enough information on select relatives to move back a generation.  That may be the case.  But is there any room for reasonable doubt?  I highly recommend Thomas W. Jones’s book Mastering Genealogical Proof.  (Jones, Thomas W.. Mastering Genealogical Proof. National Genealogical Society Special Topics Series. 2013. Print.)  In his book, Jones provides five genealogical standards of proof: thorough search; informative citations; analyze and compare sources; resolve any conflicts; and, prepare a written narrative to support your findings (3).  Jones states that researchers should view these standards as our target.  Miss one standard and you haven’t hit your target.  


Based on Thomas Jones’s listed guidelines, we need to ask ourselves if we meet the five genealogical standards. 

1.     Have I done a thorough search of evidence for this ancestor?
2.     Have I provided citations for each of my findings? 
3.     If I have come across conflicting evidence in the various proof documents I have found, have I compared these documents.
4.     Have I been able to resolve the conflict between the documents?
5.     Have I written a statement or a narrative to support my findings? (Mastering Genealogical Proof, 3.)

If you have “hit your target,” then great! Let’s move on to your focus ancestor.  For me, during this 21 Day Genealogy Challenge, I will be focusing on my great grandfather Judson Chesterfield Wilson.  I know a great deal about him, but I believe there may be more to learn.  It is my hope that by reviewing the information I already gathered, I will be lead to sources for his father, General Wilson, who is my brick wall ancestor. Remember, sometimes we have to step down to a closer relative before we can pursue the next generation back.  Which ancestor have you chosen?

Here is your 5 Point Review:       

  • Maintain consistency with your family trees.  If you add information to your online tree, update your software tree at the same time.  If you have two online trees (ie Ancestry and FamilySearch), make updates to both trees so you aren’t playing catch up later. 
  •  Have you tested your research standards against the 5 target points provided by Thomas W. Jones in Mastering Genealogical Proof?
  • Have you chosen one ancestor you would like to place your research focus on?
  • Enter all information you have regarding your focus ancestor and make a list of questions you want to answer.
  • Update your Genealogy Journal.

Congratulations! You have completed day five of the 21 Day Genealogy Challenge!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them in the Blog Comment section below.  Invite your friends to join this challenge by sharing this blog with them on Google+, Twitter and Facebook.  The share icons are just below this blog entry.

Thank you for joining this challenge and remember…..

History not shared is History forgotten!