Tuesday, June 27, 2017

GRIP, Take 4

I'm back at La Roche College outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for my 4th time at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).  (Want to see the fun I've had here in the past? 2012, 2014, 2015.)

This year I'm taking "From Confusion to Conclusion: How to Write Proof Arguments" with Kimberly T. Powell and Harold Henderson.  Over the past few years I've been focusing on organizing and writing up proof statements on the research I've done over the years.  Sometimes I do well, though lately, not so much.  I signed up for this class to make sure I was writing proof arguments correctly and also to try to jump start myself back into researching and organizing and writing.  Additionally, I'd like to get on the clock for my CG in the next couple years and also to take clients, and before doing so I felt taking this class would be tremendously useful.  So far, it looks like I was right.

Day 1, Monday, began with an introduction to proof arguments, records, information, and evidence; making sure we had a good foundation.  One of the most interesting pieces was the discussion of three sizes of proofs: proof statement (small), proof summary (medium), and proof argument (large).  I have always used these terms interchangeably, so it was good to learn the difference.

We then discussed tools that can be used analysis and correlation.  Analysis and correlation, the third step of the GPS, is where you start writing.  We need to remember that even items that are proved automatically or easily should still be written down.  Whether simple to prove or not, we can use tools such as narrative, lists, tables, timelines, spreadsheets, and maps of both the land and mind variety to organize, analyze, and correlate our information.

In the afternoon we learned about writing proof arguments.  Start where you understand as it can always be changed, moved, or deleted later.  There are a multitude of ways to organize your argument.  If you have "drama," start there, as, according to Harold, "Most of our ancestors are pretty damn boring."  From there, use logic to decide how to organize your material.  Sometimes the information is chronological, sometimes by document type, sometimes the conclusion is in the front, sometimes at the end.  Use whatever makes sense to you and you editor, if applicable.

The last part of the day was a workshop where we were able to practice organizing information and writing a proof summary and a proof argument.  It was fascinating to see how classmates and the teachers write their proofs and how many different ways you can do it that are still "right."  This, combined with our homework, is my favorite part of the course so far.  As a kinesthetic learner, I always want to try it myself and learn best by doing so and then discussing the results with others.  It is also very motivating to hear a genealogist you respect describe how they wrote a proof and see that you had done it the same way.  It helps show where your level of genealogical knowledge and training is and what you still need to learn. (Hence why I loved the SLIG Virtual Advanced Evidence Analysis Practicum that I took last fall and will be taking again this year, registration willing.)

Day 1 ended with fascinating conversations, but I'll write more on that later.

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