10 June 2013
Guest editor Jordan Jones, President of the National Genealogical Society, recently spoke to Dr. Thomas Jones about his new publication, Mastering Genealogical Proof.
shares that conversation and
his thoughts here. Jordan
I had an opportunity to talk to Tom Jones about his book Mastering Genealogical Proof, recently published by the National Genealogical Society.
The book is a culmination of Tom’s years of interest in the topic of genealogical proof. While he was serving as its president, the Board for Certification of Genealogists published The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (
: Ancestry Publishing, 2000). According
to Tom, this book was “one of the first places where the Genealogical Proof
Standard (GPS) was articulated and laid out in its five parts.” He continues:
“In fact, the Standards Manual was
released at the NGS Conference in Provo
in 2000, and I did a presentation on the GPS at that conference and have been
doing them in one form or another over the years.” Often, in the course of a
one-hour lecture, Tom can share an insight into some aspect of the GPS, but the
proof standard is a large topic that requires far more than a single hour. Providence
The courses Tom teaches at
and at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy treat the GPS in a broader context,
and this book builds on that approach. “It’s the result of my learning from all
the teaching I have done, at BU and at the Salt Lake Institute particularly.” Originally,
the book was to have been an NGS online course. As he started to develop the
content, Tom felt that “the complexity and the length suggested that an online
course was not the best way to deliver the content.” The exercises also made
the work better suited to being a “textbook to accompany a course, rather than
a course itself.” So, the National Genealogical Society worked with Tom to
re-conceive the project as a book to support in-class coursework. Boston University
And now the courses are coming: Two study groups have formed to study Mastering Genealogical Proof. One study group is hosted by Angela Packer McGhie, a genealogical researcher, lecturer, and instructor. Angela serves as the administrator of the ProGen Study Program and course coordinator. She has set up a “train-the-trainer” model where she is working through the content with a small group of mentors, who will then teach others. The course is being held online via Google Hangouts. For more information, see the “Gen Proof” groups post on her blog, Adventures in Genealogy Education.
Another study group is led by Pat Richley-Erickson, the irrepressible blogger also known as “Dear Myrtle.” This course started with an orientation session on Sunday, with fifteen other panelists. There will be sessions through September, including a graduation ceremony. For more information, see Pat Richley-Erickson’s blog Dear Myrtle or her MGP Study Group schedule.
Of the audience for the Mastering Genealogical Proof, Tom says he hopes it would include “everyone interested in tracing their family history. Most of my teaching experience has been with people that I would say are intermediate and higher in terms of their research experience. I think the greatest interest in the book is among that group, but I really hope people who are just embarking on their family history research will pick this up and get a lot out of it, because it will get them started off on the right foot. It will minimize all the hours of work put into something that a few years down the road they realize is worthless. I don’t think anything in here is too advanced or too complex for a new family historian to digest and benefit from and apply to their own research.” I agree, and hope researchers, those just beginning, and those with more experience, will take a look at Tom’s book, and learn to benefit from the rigor and clarity of the genealogical proof standard. The National Genealogical Society is proud to have helped bring Mastering Genealogical Proof to the community of genealogists. We are heartened to see that the book is generating interest in advanced genealogical study, and that students and teachers are using it to explore and extend their understanding of the GPS.
— Jordan Jones, President, National Genealogical Society
Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones (
National Genealogical Society, 2013). $ , Arlington Virginia 25
$24.95 ($30 with shipping) for the general public; $ 20 $19.95 ($25 with shipping) for NGS members. Available at http://www.ngsgenealogy.org/cs/mastering_genealogical_proof)
Editor’s Note: One of the National Genealogical Society’s educational goals two years ago was to bring an excellent learning tool to the genealogical community that would help expand understanding of the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). With the help of Dr. Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, that NGS goal was realized recently with the publication of Mastering Genealogical Proof. The release of this book has excited and enthused genealogists of all skill levels and as a result classes and courses of study are forming quickly around this excellent text.
Editor's Note: Pricing updated to accurately reflect current price.
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