Paul K. Graham

Certified Genealogist SM

Accredited Genealogist ®

Genealogy Standards: A Poem

Paul K. Graham
March 2014

Apply standards to genealogy
And forge a record for posterity.
You’ll make a family chronology
With high degrees of credibility.

Follow rules of genealogy proof,
With reasonable search, begin, and cite.
To avoid being revealed as a goof,
You analyze, correlate, resolve, write.

Think of your genie sisters and brothers,
And for their aid give records due regard.
When conducting research, respect others,
Taking care that compilers are not marred.

Collect information efficiently,
Put away bias and preconception,
Read all of the content proficiently,
And for your source leave no misperception.

Reasonably exhaustive search is first;
It may be complex or sophisticated,
But draw from strong sources that are dispersed,
And reveal where others deviated.

Analyze every document you find,
Understanding information items.
Correlate records, showing they’re aligned,
Revealing their agreements and problems.

Sources, information, and evidence,
Form the framework for our analysis.
Background context, presumptions, relevance,
Help us avoid research paralysis.

Research findings are presented in prose,
In manner efficient, useful, and clear.
Foregone conclusions you should not impose,
And data in summaries must cohere.

Make any arguments through proof summaries,
Always focused on the central question.
Use logic to help readers’ memories,
And follow data to the conclusion.

Your compiled genealogical works
Show how people connect to relations
And include depictions of their life’s quirks,
All using standard organization.

Do we know our work portrays history,
Or are we just perpetuating myth?
Our forebears should not be a mystery,
So begin following standards, forthwith.