Re: Genealogical Proof Standard

Mike Tate

I don’t consider the FH Assessments of Primary evidence and Secondary evidence as applicable to the Source as a whole.

Instead, they apply to the Fact and the Citation with respect to the information within the Source that provides the proof.


For example, a Death Certificate provides Primary evidence of the Date & Place of Death, but the Date of Birth derived from the Age or Birth Date found in the Death Certificate is Secondary evidence or even Questionable evidence, because that is not contemporary information.


See the FHUG Knowledge Base article on Getting Started with Genealogy Research and Source Citations:


I realise it is not as rigorous as Elizabeth Shown Mills but perhaps not as different as you suggest.


Regards, Mike Tate


From: <> On Behalf Of Jan Murphy
Sent: 06 May 2020 19:50
Subject: Re: [family-historian] Genealogical Proof Standard


Hello Terry --


A couple of points.  A) You may already be aware that the Strathclyde course (and Family Historian itself) uses the term "primary" and "secondary" in a way that differs from the usage in the USA where people are following the model of Elizabeth Shown Mills and her book Evidence Explained. For your reference, here are a few links that might be of interest.  (I took the Future Learn course when it was first offered and Mills' work was mentioned in passing with little discussion.) 


This shows Mills' method of evidence analysis, where "primary" and "secondary" refer to the information inside the sources. Sources themselves are treated as containers separate from the information and are described as "original" vs. "derivative" (e.g. indexes are derivative) or authored. 

If you are curious about the development of Mills' model, she makes an article available via her website Historic Pathways. 


Working with Historical Evidence from NGSQ's special issue talks about why the earlier model of "primary" and "secondary" sources is not sufficient for genealogy. You can also download the earlier version of the Process Map.

Until you are comfortable working through the evidence analysis, you may want some guides. Some people like Evidentia software, which will generate a report about what you've done already. I have not tried incorporating my Evidentia reports into Family Historian.  Take a look at the Training and Support on the navigation bar to see a step-by-step guide, which will give you a quick overview of how the program works.  Currently the reports can be generated in PDF or HTML format. I haven't yet tried incorporating reports from Evidentia into Family Historian, but I suppose one could copy and paste into a Note. We'll have to see wait for the new version of FH to see what's improved there. 

Other useful links about the GPS:
Genealogy Explained's Genealogical Proof Standard flowchart


Board for Certification of Genealogists website.  See the Ten Minute Methodology section for examples of proof statements and proof summaries. I also recommend looking at the work samples, the articles from OnBoard, and other materials in the Skillbuilding area. 


Jan Murphy


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