My first workshop on day 1 of the NGS conference was “Family Tapestry: Integrating Proof Arguments” by Jeanne Larzalere Bloom. As you will notice, the majority of the lectures I am attending are on proof arguments and writing, and this was a wonderful introduction to both.
All genealogists should be writing proof arguments for every step of their research. It is tremendously important to remember that the proof argument is not a final, written-in-stone document, but rather a statement of where you are in your research at this point in time. Looking at it in this way makes writing proof arguments much less overwhelming that the grandiose essay I had in my mind.
Bloom discussed her adaption of the Toulmin Model for genealogy. First, we need to start with the evidence found an exhaustive search. We use this information to build a proof argument and, finally, a proof summary.
It is important to remember that the entire point of a proof summary is to answer the research question you posed at the beginning of your research process. Once the summary is written, people will want to tear it down, to find the holes in your argument; find those holes yourself, then go do the research to plug them.