multiple indirect evidence

The subject and all of their information has been cited fully and well.  However, the subject's parents who are merely listed as John (abt 1880 - 1914) and Jane (1885-1920) are harder.  There was no direct evidence to indicate proven birth/death information.  It was through little, mini proof statements that their life events were documented through a lot of analysis.

MY QUESTION IS, How do I site years of census', tomb stones, newspapers, and such that created the argument for their b/d information?

I WANT TO write, "Proof of John Doe's birth and death are a result of analyzing evidence found in....."  and put it all together as one.  Is that acceptable?


Wendy Wirstrom

Submitted byEEon Tue, 08/17/2021 - 16:57

Ah, Wendy, life would be so much simpler if we could lump all the evidence into one statement; but it just doesn't work that way. If all evidence is lumped together, no one can evaluate what evidence we are using to prove which point.

When we craft a proof argument, we have to be very explicit as to what each piece of indirect evidence suggests. We have to correlate specific pieces of indirect evidence and explain how they fit together to prove a larger point. &c. We have to detail all that analysis that went into the conclusion. Without detailing the research, the findings, the evidence, and the conclusions, we're telling others, "Just take my word for it" and that is never credible.

The best advice I can give you is to study the proof arguments that are published in every issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly. That peer-reviewed journals specializes in problems of the type you're wrestling with. All of its back issues are online to members. Copies of the journal are also available in a thousand or so municipal and university libraries nationwide.

Some proof-arguments from that journal also freely available online at websites maintained by the individual authors. As a starting point, here are three sites:

  • Board for Certification of Genealogists website ( under "Work Samples." 
  • My personal website, under the "Articles" tab.
  • Rachal Lennon, CG, FASG's website, which includes several of her NGSQ case studies that are based on indirect evidenceincluding examples that prove wives and examples that prove parents.

You'll see that these proof arguments come in various lengths, depending upon the complexity of each problem. But the one thing they have in common is that they detail the research, the findings, the evidence, and the conclusions.

Submitted byWendy Wirstromon Tue, 08/17/2021 - 17:07

I wrote a very deep proof argument for each of the two parents' lives already. [different report]

Now I'm naming them in a different proof argument as very collateral FANs.  Darn.  I was hoping to not have to revisit and shorten those to include them.  

But I get it.  Thank you for the super speedy response.


If you already have a documented proof argument, you could cite that report, especially if it's in a public place like our dear Editor does on her Historic Pathways website.
I often cite my own reports in other reports, since they build on each other. No need to repeat everything in every report. But when I write something for publication, I pull the relevant information and cite external sources, not my own reports.