Genealogy Proof Standards

There are a common set of principles of competence to which genealogists adhere.  These principles are applied to all phases of any research project from collecting information, evaluating the evidence and compiling the results.  Reconstructing family history that is as close to the truth as possible is the ultimate goal for all genealogists. The credibility of statements made about the identities and relationships among ancestors is important in giving authenticity to the story of one’s family history.

The credibility standard is called the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).   It is used to assess the reliability of genealogical statements that other people make, whether they related to our families or to their own.  Meeting the GPS is a five-step process:

  1. We conduct a reasonably exhaustive search in reliable sources for all information that is or may be pertinent to the identify, relationship, event, or situation in question;
  2. We collect and include in our compilation a complete, accurate citation to the source or sources of each item of information we use;
  3. We analyze and correlate the collected information to assess its quality as evidence;
  4. We resolve any conflicts caused by items of evidence that contradict each other or are contrary to a proposed solution to the question;
  5. We arrive a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

from the Standards Manual by The Board for Certification of Genealogists, Washington, D.C.   2000

It is important for us all to keep these tenants in mind when developing our family tree.

Consequently, it is the responsibility of all of us to make sure that the information collected is properly recorded and the sources of information cited.  It is only through our careful efforts that we can build an authentic family tree and creditable website.


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