Jan 2016

The Genealogical Proof Standard In Practice

In the field of genealogy, the conclusion to a research question is considered proven when it meets the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). The GPS consists of five interdependent elements, each of which plays a role in ensuring a conclusion is credible: Reasonably exhaustive research Complete and accurate source citations for each information item Analysis and […]
Jan 2016

The American State Papers and United States Congressional Serial Set

The American State Papers (ASP) and the United States Congressional Serial Set (Serial Set) are multi-volume government publications containing reports and documents that record the activities of the United States Congress. An often-overlooked resource, the ASP and Serial Set can provide genealogists with valuable information to piece together details and context related to their ancestors’ […]
Dec 2015

Navigating the National Archives

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the agency responsible for maintaining and providing access to historic records created by the federal government. To successfully plan and execute research at NARA facilities, genealogists need a basic understanding of what types of records are held at NARA, and how they are arranged and organized.
Dec 2015

Considering the Law

As family historians, we use various types of historical records to link generations of our families together. In doing so, we often forget that these records were not created for genealogists. Many were created as a result of laws that were in effect years ago. To complete reasonably exhaustive research, we must consider the laws […]
Nov 2015

A Lesson in Reasonably Exhaustive Research

Genealogists who reconstruct their family histories must meet the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS) to ensure that their conclusions are sound. The first element of the GPS is “reasonably exhaustive research—emphasizing original records providing participants’ information—for all evidence that might answer a genealogist’s question about an identity, relationship, event, or situation.”[1] In some instances, researchers may […]
Nov 2015

U.S. Patent Records as a Genealogical Resource

In 1790, the United States Congress passed a bill establishing the Patent Board, an entity responsible for conferring rights to inventors for their inventions, a process known as “issuing patents.” Prior to this time, colonies and states issued some patents, either as private acts or in accordance with state or colony-level laws, until the federal […]
Oct 2015

Working Around the National Personnel Records Center Fire of 1973

Millions of personnel records for members of the U.S. armed forces who served during the twentieth century were destroyed as a result of the 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in Overland, Missouri. These records had not been duplicated or microfilmed, so the loss was tremendous. Many genealogists researching men and women […]
Oct 2015

Using Autosomal DNA To Help Establish Proof

DNA testing has become increasingly popular in the genealogical community over the past few years, and test results are now often used to help establish proof of relationships. In his case study, “Too Few Sources to Solve a Family Mystery? Some Greenfields in Central and Western New York,” which appeared in the June 2015 issue of […]
Sep 2015

Documentation: The Backbone of Genealogical Research

Many beginner genealogists get caught up in chasing their ancestors back in time, and fail to record where they found the information they discovered. Eventually, they realize they should have been doing this all along—perhaps after sifting through papers in search of the source of a specific piece of information. Documentation and source citations are […]
Sep 2015

Don’t Miss the NGSQ Editors’ Corner

Some readers of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly (NGSQ) may be so focused on getting into the newest case studies that they skip over an important piece of NGSQ—the Editors’ Corner. Written each issue by NGSQ co-editors Melinde Lutz Byrne, CG, FASG, and Thomas W. Jones, Ph.D., CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, the Editors’ Corner offers […]