MGP Book Cover

The fifth element of the GPS is a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion that according to the GPS.  A Proof Summary is a little more complicated than a Proof Statement reviewed last week. The Proof Summary “may begin or end with a statement of the conclusion being proved” according to Dr. Jones recommends at least two independent sources with “at least 1 original record providing info drectly, indirectly or negatively supports the conclusion.” Now you are going to have to continue reading on page 86 of Masterning Genealogical Proof to find out more about how the citations for the compiled documents must meet all five elements of the GPS (Genealogical Proof Standard) summarized at the Board for Certification of Genealogists website here: 

We are following along with DearMYRTLE’s “Don’t Panic! Review The Written Conclusion Study Group instead” posted at my old blog by continuing to study Chapter 7 from Thomas W. Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof  (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013). [Book available from the publisher here and in Kindle format, described here.]  You’ll want to watch this embedded video of DearMYRTLE’s The Written Conclusion Study Group – Proof Summaries hangout.


DearMYRTLE's Profile PicMyrt’s Musings

So when it comes to a Proof Summary, we’re not talking about merely entering the fact as you see it into your genealogy management software. (See: Cyndi’s List – Software & Computers> Genealogy Software Programs). We’re talking about an explanation in narrative format about the information in multiple documents that leads you to believe something about an ancestor’s life. Our friends at WikiPedia explain –

narrative or story is a report of connected events, real or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images,[1][2] or both. The word derives from the Latin verb narrare, “to tell”, which is derived from the adjective gnarus, “knowing” or “skilled”. Source:

To this I would add true or untrue. In the world of genealogy we’re assuming the Proof Summary truly reflects a fact in an ancestor’s life. In the future, additional information may come to light that may affect our understanding of that event in an ancestor’s life. Let’s take this example from Ol’ Myrt’s personal family history.

Below we have the 1940 US Population Schedule for  Seattle, King, Washington, ED 40-192 Sheet 5B, enumerated on April 9th from FamilySearch. Reviewing line 74 we find an entry for my maternal grandmother, Frances Froman who was a lodger in the home of Mamie Seims. Her landlady has the (x) by her name, meaning she was the informant who reported Frances is divorced and 34 years of age.

With this document alone, I could make a Proof Statement about my grandmother’s age, her marital status or residence. However, Dr. Jones suggests we might add another document to the mix, so I’ll add the Social Security Death Index Entry for Frances MCDonnell found at GenealogyBank and piece together some additional information.


If we are looking for a birth date for this ancestor a couple of things need to come into play:

  • Doing the math, if Frances was 34 in the 1940 census,  her probable birth year would be 1906.
  • Yet 1905 is listed as the birth year in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI).
  • We might conclude that the landlady was mistaken, and believe the birth year to be correct in the SSDI, since one had to present a legitimate birth certificate to obtain a Social Security number.

So putting this in narrative format for my Proof Summary, Ol’ Myrt here might say:

Frances Irene (Goering) Froman McDonnell’s birth was 22 August 1905 per the Social Security Death Index, though the entry for Francis in the 1940 census would have put it at 1906.  We conclude that the enumeration informant, her landlady, could easily have been mistaken. The SSDI is considered more accurate since one has to present a legitimate birth certificate to obtain a Social Security number.

Now I’ve omitted full reference notes in favor of in-line hyperlinks, a greivous sin in some circles, but I think you get the point.

How is your Proof Summary coming along?

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     🙂
Your friend in genealogy.