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With the so big message

It’s just a little book, really. Only 58 pages including the index. Okay, so it goes all the way up to 62 pages if you throw in the introduction and the table of contents.

It’s not stuffy. It’s not hard to read. It’s not in tiny little type. It’s even got pictures, for pete’s sake!

Rose.4thAnd it’s a modern guide in plain language that can help any genealogist — beginner, intermediate or advanced — who’s committed to the idea of Doing Things Right.

It’s a guide to what we know today as the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Christine Rose’s recently-published fourth edition of her Genealogical Proof Standard: Building A Solid Case1 remains a go-to resource for understanding and applying the various parts of the Genealogical Proof Standard.

It’s the end result of almost 20 years of thinking and writing that began with an article in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly in 1995,2 became the first edition of the book in 2001,3 the second edition in 20054 and the third edition in 2009.5

The impetus for this new fourth edition was the expansion of our thinking about the genealogical proof process. Instead of just dividing sources into original and derivative sources, for example, we now think of them as original or derivate or authored sources.6 Information isn’t just primary or secondary — it may be indeterminable: we may simply not know enough to categorize it any better.7

With those expansions, incorporated into the Board for Certification of Genealogists’ new Genealogy Standards, published earlier this year,8 comes this revised common-sense guide to applying those distinctions to our everyday research issues.

And with that common-sense approach comes a promise: “When the five-point process of the GPS is understood and when the steps for analyzing evidence are correctly apply many genealogical puzzles will be convincingly resolved.”9

This easy-to-digest paperback only has five chapters, with nuggets in each one:

• In Chapter 1: What is the Genealogical Proof Standard?, we’re reminded that when a record was made isn’t the only key to its credibility: “A microfilm or photocopy made in 2009 from the 1804 original deed is more credible than a poor handwritten transcription made in 1850…”10

• In Chapter 2: Building a Solid Case, we’re reminded that we need to consider why a statement is made or a record created: “the widow might fudge on the date of marriage if the pension law stated that the ceremony had to be performed by a prescribed date in order for her to be eligible.”11

• In Chapter 3: Evaluating the Records, we’re reminded that even in a single record different parts may have different credibility: “Each segment of the record may carry a different weight and each ‘fact’ is weighed individually.”12

• In Chapter 4: Case Studies, we’re reminded that “Even after a GPS case is made, each new discovery forces a complete reevaluation. … It may strengthen, or it may even negate, the previous conclusion.”13

• In Chapter 5: Writing It Up, we’re reminded that writing it up — and doing it right — “will assure our descendants and other researchers will understand our findings!”14

It’s just a little book. But oh it carries a so-big message: “Properly applying the Genealogical Proof Standard to our problems can result in a conckusion for many of those ‘brick wall’ dead ends we accumulate!”15

Highly recommended. Available from the author’s website, $9.95 plus postage.


  1. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building A Solid Case, 4th ed. (San Jose, Calif. : CR Publications, 2014).
  2. Christine Rose, “What Is Preponderance of the Evidence,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly 83 (March 1995): 3-16.
  3. Christine Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building A Solid Case (San Jose, Calif. : CR Publications, 2001).
  4. Ibid., 2nd ed. (San Jose, Calif. : CR Publications, 2005).
  5. Ibid., 3rd ed. (San Jose, Calif. : CR Publications, 2009).
  6. See Elizabeth Shown Mills, “Evidence Analysis: A Research Process Map,” in Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn. : Ancestry, 2014), at back flyleaf.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Board for Certification of Genealogists, Genealogy Standards (Nashville, Tenn. : Ancestry, 2014).
  9. Rose, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building A Solid Case, 4th ed. at xii.
  10. Ibid. at 6.
  11. Ibid. at 15.
  12. Ibid. at 29.
  13. Ibid. at 41.
  14. Ibid. at 52.
  15. Ibid. at 54.
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