Blog 2021 09 03 GPS Standard #5: A soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion

We now come to the last standard although we have touched on it several times, we must take our research and make it available to others.  Whether we publish it in a book or journal of some kind; simply put it online via one of the many websites; or simply leave it to be put into a library or other repository, we must write out our findings.  If you are simply leaving it in one of a myriad of genealogy software programs, many have spaces for notes where you can enter your conclusions on the items discussed below.

We need to show our research with sufficient source citing so followers can find the exact same source otherwise, as we discussed, it is no longer fact but speculation.  As I said, how formal the citation is depends on the method of publication but if you are relying on websites such as FamilySearch.org you cannot simply list the URL as it might change, you must state the location of the original.

You must explain any conflicts and how you determine the truth and sorted the people, events, or places.  You should provide sufficient documentation along with any reasonable analysis that drew you to a conclusion.  For example, to state that this 14-year-old girl in Georgia in the 1880s could not possibly be married having babies is not a reasonable conclusion because I will show you such cases.  But if you said she was less than 12 years old, then your conclusion is reasonable.  If you say the woman was over 40 your reasoning is flawed since my grandmother was 42 when my father was born and 45 when her youngest was born.  However, as I explained to a colleague who was absolutely sure one of the two daughters of this family was the biological mother could not be because at the same time the baby was born, that woman was married in Florida having a different baby.

You need to ensure you have done reasonably exhaustive research by looking at all reasonable possibilities.  Sometimes these can be ruled out quite quickly much like resolving conflicts.  I may have mentioned in a previous blog the case of two men of about the same age in Colorado.  One married the daughter of the First Baptist Church of Atlanta in 1890 making front-page news and the other was a member of the Five Civilized Tribes (FCT), specifically, the Choctaw.  The quick proof was that the member of the FCT was a former slave, the man who married the pastor’s daughter had to be a white man in the 1890s.

However, you put in writing (electronically or on paper) write up your findings and share them with others researching the same family or families.