According to professional genealogist Elizabeth Mills, ‘Proof’ is a conclusion we reach from a body of evidence. No single source can serve as ‘proof.’ No one piece of information can provide it. No one bit of evidence can stand alone.
To support this thesis, Ms. Mills suggests three ways to arrive at ‘proof’: Evaluating the source; evaluating the information; and evaluating and processing the evidence. In the first instance she shows us that a source is a physical container, to be evaluated separately from its contents. In the second instance she demonstrates that each assertion must be evaluated separately. And finally she explains that information is evidence only when relevant to a research question.
To define ‘proof’ once and for all, Ms. Mills then provides a “Process Map for Historical Researchers,” established on the principle that sources provide information from which we identify evidence for analysis. A sound conclusion may then be considered ‘proof.’
It goes without saying that this two-sided laminated QuickSheet is the surest and quickest guide to ‘proof’ the historical researcher is ever likely to need.
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