07 August 2013

Evidently What I Found Was Not Proof But There's Evidence I Found It

When I locate a pension application for a widow where she states her maiden name, that's evidence of her maiden name--not proof. One document making a statement is not proof of that statement.

When I group the pension application where she states her maiden name, along with the church record that gives a slightly different variant of that name, along with her father's will that names her as his daughter, and every other record that provides a statement of evidence about her maiden name and I discuss those records, analyze them, and write up an analysis-that's proof.

Proof is the summarizing and analyzing of evidence (statements) about a person, event, or relationship and stating the conclusion based upon that evidence. It doesn't have to be difficult or overly verbose, particularly if records are easily located and consistent with each other. It when they difficult to locate or inconsistent that writing up the proof is more difficult because there's not always much evidence upon which to base our proof.

Evidence we find. Proof we write up.

The only way to "find proof" is to discover that someone else has done the complete exhaustive research and written it up. Otherwise what we find is evidence.

This post is:

Read Evidence Explained to learn more about evidence and proof.


J. Paul Hawthorne said...

Hallelujah, I think I see the light.

Joleen said...

Thank you! Brief, to the point, and right on.

kinfolknews said...

To quote Covergirl:
"Easy, Breezy, Beautiful!"

Anonymous said...

Very well stated!
I think of it in terms of a court case.
The prosecution presents the evidence, and outlines what the evidence suggests.
The jury decides whether that analysis has proved the case.

Deb Stock

Michele Simmons Lewis said...

I think that is the best definition I have seen. Even absolute beginners can understand this!

MissPeggy55 said...

Michael, once again you have come straight to the point. What a great post!

Bubba said...

Thanks for all the positive comments. I do appreciate them. This was (believe it or not) an entirely off-the-cuff post in response to an item that flew across the twittersphere a few days ago.

Miriam Robbins said...

Thank you, Michael. I'd like to reference this blog post when I teach my basic genealogy classes and talk about evidence vs. proof.