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From the Green Valley News, Sunday February 14 2010, page C1

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Proof is in the Written Word

Finally after doing all our homework, we arrive at step five of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS), "A soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion." A written conclusion is an essential part of establishing proof for several reasons.

Writing forces us to organize our thoughts. Thinking a problem through to a conclusion merits a written record of the process. Any flaws in thinking become apparent as we write. If it's impossible to support the conclusion in written form, there is likely faulty logic that needs to be re-examined.

Memory may fail but the written word endures. If the conclusion is not written as time passes essential facts may be misplaced or forgotten requiring the whole process of proof to be repeated over again. While it may be easier the second time around, why duplicate the effort?

A written conclusion is easily shared with other researchers. Often we connect with others working on the same family problems who can benefit from our knowledge. Just as important, after sharing our work others may be able to add to it from their experience.

Examples of written proof conclusions appear in several articles in each issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. This journal is available from the Society in Arlington, Virginia and in most genealogical libraries including the Green Valley Genealogical Society library and the Langley Family History Center in Tucson.

A good habit to adopt is writing about your family as you research. You will become accustomed to writing in small bites and never have a massive writing project facing you when your research on a particular person or family is complete. Too many family histories never get written because the project grows so big it overwhelms the researcher.

If you feel you are not a "writer" it's even more important to put your facts into paragraph form. The more your write the more skilled you will become. If you're just not comfortable with your written results, at some point a writer can be hired to polish up your prose and complete the process of getting your work into printed form.

Most researchers spend many dollars and hundreds of hours tracking family. Why do the work if it won't be preserved for future generations? There is no guarantee that today's computerized data will be accessible even ten years from now. How many of us currently have equipment that can read the floppy discs or tape backups produced in the 1980s and 90s?

Most repositories today that will not accept raw family data. If the data is compiled into a readable history, many libraries and archives will welcome a copy of your manuscript. Among these are the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, and the Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana, the two largest genealogical resource centers in the U.S. Details of their submission policies are on their websites, and I hope this series of articles has encouraged you to use the GPS to enhance your research and prove your genealogical conclusions.

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