How to Build a Research Plan

This picture by unknown author is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND Research can be defined as "a detailed study of a subject, especially in order to discover (new) information or reach a (new) understanding"https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/research As family historians, we are constantly trying to discover new information and reach new understandings - it is inherent in what we [...]

What is Proof?

The end goal of all genealogical investigations is to establish proof, by which we mean a convincing, credible case for a specific ancestral identity, relationship, or life event. By thorough research in sources, we must find sufficient detailed, matching evidence to uncover and reconstruct relationships and events relating to our research target, and only our [...]

Linking Genealogical Evidence: A Method – Part 2

Being able to accurately and reliably link evidence from different sources to the same individual is a key skill which all family historians need to learn and master. In part 1 we looked the five factors which underpin evidence linkage: UniquenessCommunity SizeDistanceTime DifferenceContradictory Evidence In this concluding part we look at how to assess linkage [...]

Linking Genealogical Evidence: A Method

Being able to accurately and reliably link evidence from different sources to the same individual is a key skill which all family historians need to learn and master. But there is very little writing out there to help people learn how to do this - and the vast number of poorly reasoned linkages in member [...]

What is Evidence?

Sources, documents, records, data, facts, information, evidence. They're similar terms and we family historians sometimes use them more loosely than we should. Of all these terms, the most vital, and perhaps the least well understood, is evidence. We all have implicit notions of what constitutes evidence, but it has a precise meaning in genealogy which [...]

Solving Tough Genealogy Problems

In this article I look at a structured approach to analysing and solving those challenging problems that occur in our family history research. It comprises six principal steps, which any genealogist can follow. Elsewhere in my blog you will find a four-part case study titled The Woman Who Fell From The Skies, so called because [...]

The Woman Who Fell From The Skies – Part 4

So you've found a strong candidate for your missing ancestor, but have you gone the extra distance to prove that they are the person you've been looking for? Have you considered tracing forward all the possible candidates to eliminate all bar one? Have you examined contradictory evidence and tried to resolve it? In the final [...]

The Woman Who Fell From The Skies – Part 3

It is one thing to show there is a likely link between a person or family across two locations, but it is quite another to eliminate all the other possibilities. In this part of Seeing the Wood for the Trees I look at how to build partial evidence into a compelling case. Previously - I [...]

The Woman Who Fell From The Skies – Part 2

Previously - In part 1 I introduced you to Mary Jane Hyland, my great-great grandmother. She married John Bowers in Warrington, Lancashire in 1894. I could find no prior record for her which constituted a convincing match and the 1901 census simply said she was born in 'Ireland'. My objective was to find a birth [...]

The Woman Who Fell From The Skies

This has happened to every family history researcher at one time or another. While researching a branch of the family in a census, one consults the Place of Birth column to see the unhelpfully imprecise, yet definitive statement: "Ireland." My first thought was, "Terrific, I have some Irish heritage!" My second thought was, "Is that [...]

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