What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?

The GPS is published by the Board for Certification of Genealogists and defines the set of criteria that must be met in order to reach a sound conclusion about the facts and relationships that we document as part of our genealogy.  To reach a sound conclusion all five of these components must be met:

  1. Reasonably exhaustive search - Did you take the first piece of evidence that fits your narrative, or did you look for other sources?  Have you consulted other published lineages to see what sources they rely on?  Looked for primary sources such as birth and marriage records, obituaries, etc?

  2. Complete and accurate source citations - While you may have found evidence that convinces you, the GPS requires that you properly document your sources so that others may come to the same conclusion.  You can do this on Geni using the Sources tab on every profile or, for short references, in the "About" text on a profile's Overview tab.

  3. Thorough analysis and correlation - The best evidence exists not in isolation but rather a constellation of records and other publications that each fit within the boundaries that the others define.  Have you found multiple sources that all point to the same conclusion?  Do those sources fit the time frame and location from which they came?  Are they primary sources and if not, could there have been bias in their creation?

  4. Resolution of conflicting evidence - It's human nature to pass over the evidence that doesn't fit the narrative we're trying to weave.  Proper genealogical proof requires that we examine all conflicting evidence and provide a plausible explanation for why it differs and why we choose one set of evidence over another. 

  5. Soundly written conclusion based on the strongest evidence - In its simplest form Geni will do this for you as you construct your family tree, simply by collecting all of the facts and relationships in one place.  Sometimes more is required, though -- in these cases we suggest taking the time to explain what you've found and how that led you to your conclusion.  You can do this in the About text on the profile Overview tab, or Discussions on the profile, or the comments section on a document.
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