29 November 2010

Book Review: Genealogical Standards of Evidence

Cover for Genealogical Standards of Evidence
Canadian genealogy guru Brenda Dougall Merriman gives as her objective, in the introduction to this book, to "explain how the genealogical community developed standards of evidence and documentation, what those basic standards are, and how you can apply them to your own work."

Chapter 1, The Background, deals with the somewhat checkered history of genealogical investigations, methodology, resources and access, and skillbuilding, the latter items dealt with in more detail in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 2, Genealogical Research Standards, is the heart of the book, Sections with headings such as sources, information, evidence, analysis of evidence, Genealogical Proof Standard, citation of sources, elucidate, using a simple case study, the modern approach to establishing a credible genealogy. 

There is a section titled "Checklist of Genealogical Sources" which you can use to test whether your search has been "reasonably exhaustive." The omission of DNA sources in this list, and elsewhere in the book, reflects an unfortunate delay in the professional genealogical community catching up with today's technological reality.

Chapter 3, Learning and Practice, details resources available that will allow you to improve your skills, each with an address, telephone number, and website as appropriate.

Chapter 4, Some Illustrated Examples, reproduces a variety of Canadian documents and gives a brief explanation of the information one can infer from them.

At the end are a reading and reference list containing books, Internet and articles; and endnotes.

This is the book if you're looking for a short guide to help you in adhering to the American professional genealogy canon as taught (and perhaps applied) in Canada. It will find a place in my personal library.

Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians, by Brenda Dougall Merriman is, a 120 page paperback, published for the Ontario Genealogical Society by Dundurn Press (March 2010), ISBN 978-1554884513, and is widely available from retailers online (Google it for a convenient source) as well as perhaps your local OGS branch.The cover price is $19.99

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