Apprentice Adventures #7


My apprentice was over on Thursday and we discussed her assignments. First we discussed her reading of Christine Rose’s book, Genealogical Proof Standard, Building a Solid Case (CR Publications, 2005).

This was excellant preparation for the other reading, Connie Lenzen’s article, “Heritage Books and Family Lore: A Jackson Test in Missouri and Idaho.”National Genealogical Society Quarterly Vol. 86, No. 1 (March 1998) pp.19-36. My instructions were to read the article four times very carefully. The day before our meeting she emailed, “Now I know why you said read it over 4 times! In the past, when I got to stuff like this I just put down conflicting information and bypassed it. Now I now what to do”


She was also asked to answer some challenging study questions and be preared to answer them and others. Here’s an excerpt from the study directions.

“The following study questions are intended to help prepare for our discussion.
Many of these questions may be incorporated in our discussion. However there will be other questions in the discussion arising from our discussion.


  1. Many genealogists focus their reading from genealogical journals on the search for references to specific families, and localities. It is fairly safe to speculate that you are not particularly interested in Jacksons nor their homes in Missouri or Idaho. Disregarding these things, what, then, is this article really about?
  2. Given the drastic contradictions within and between the “heritage books” (often called community history books) referred to in this article, of what value were they to Ms. Lenzen’s research?
  3. Ms Lenzen discusses Step One, which she calls “Consider the Source”. Can you suggest ways to evaluate family tradition? Ms Lenzen poses some excellent questions, however, it is not clear how to evaluate the answers one finds. How would you do that?
  4. How does this article determine the probability that the events took place?
  5. Are there general questions we need to answer in using this step in other research contexts that will help determine the probability of events?
  6. Why would Ms Lenzen want to determine the probability of the events before she attempts to situate George W. Jackson in time and place?
  7. Can you suggest reasons why the author felt it was important to track down the story in the Portland Oregonian? Having tracked down the article, why do you suppose she thought it important enough to include in the article?
  8. The author begins a discussion on the process of combing “extant” records. What does the term “extant” mean in this context? How does this fit into the Genealogical Proof Standard?
  9. Consider the types of records the author searches in her Step Five. Is there an apparent significance to the order of the searches? If, for example, obituaries were searched before the censuses were consulted, would it change the logic of her case?
  10. The author suggests that George Jackson died in Elmore County, Idaho between 1910 and 1920. He was formerly of neighboring Alturas County. As you read the paragraph under Death or probate records, and consider what we learn from the censuses about George would you consider these searches to be to be sufficient? Why?
  11. How does the author use the simple devise of a timeline to resolve a confusion of two George Jacksons?
  12. Ms Lenzen presents five steps in resolving this particular research problem. How can these be generalized to sorting out contradictions within and between oral tradition and sources like community histories?
  13. Consider the derivative sources (other than the two “heritage books”) noted in article. How comfortable are you with their use as evidence? Give examples to explain your position
  14. Although this article was written before the Genealogical Proof Standard was published, does Connie Lenzen’s research meet that standard?”













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