Casefile Clues

28 May 2014

Few Hard and Fast Rules

Genealogy is more art than people realize. I'm not talking about watercolors Grandma painted or oil portraits your ancestor commissioned of himself. That's "genealogy art" which is not the same as viewing genealogy as something of an art.

By referring to genealogy as "art," I'm also not suggesting that one gets creative and makes up evidence or makes up connections for which there is no evidence. The creation of facts is not sound genealogy. It's out and out lying.

By referring to genealogy as "art," I'm thinking of those times when making a connection or putting together an argument requires creatively looking at information and creatively organizing it. Organization should be supported by common sense and the laws of biology and physics, but clever organization requires the researcher to put information together in ways that others have not and seeing things that other researchers have not noticed.

There's no hard and fast set of rules of what to do to solve some problems. There are suggestions and guidelines but rules that will always work the exact same way for every problem. The Genealogy Proof Standard is necessarily vague for that reason.There needs to be some wiggle room.. There's not a precise set of steps to follow to separate out three men with the same name. The reason is that exactly what worked in one case may not work exactly the same way in another.


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