Mastering Genealogical Proof Study Group

Since mid-August, I’ve participated in an on-line study group covering Thomas W. Jones’ book Mastering Genealogical Proof.1,2 This new book has the genealogy community excited, with case studies and questions/answers showing us how to apply respected standards to come up with acceptable conclusions.

Angela Packer McGhie, administrator of the ProGen Study Program, in her Adventures in Genealogy Education blog has just announced five more study groups are forming.3 DearMYRTLE has just completed a study group; the YouTube videos are still available.4  I’ve reviewed those chapter 2 videos to help me understand that chapter’s difficult, for me, concepts.

While working on my family history, I want to learn professional techniques so my research can be used by others. One assignment in MGP is to select a brick wall in your own family tree and use the techniques in the book to break through that brick wall.

For my brick wall, I selected my great-grandmother Dovey Alpine Piearcy Buckmaster, with my research question – “Who were her parents?” The answer to that question seemed pretty clear-cut, until I really started gathering sources for her. Dovey wasn’t listed as a great-granddaughter of Tryphena McGinnis Piearcy in her petition for Choctaw citizenship, as were Dovey’s two younger siblings. (See my earlier post for Tryphena’s petition.) Then I pulled out my paper files on Dovey, including the original marriage records for James Wesley Piearcy and Bertie Wellington. From the calculation of Dovey’s age from the 1900 census, Dovey was born in 1889/90, four years before her parents married in 1894. Both Jim and Bertie were fourteen years old in 1889/90. It really doesn’t seem likely Jim and Bertie would have a child when they were fourteen, then marry four years later. Possible, but not likely.

In chapter 2 of the study group, one of our assignments is to develop a locality guide with all the possible sources of information, to assure a reasonably exhaustive search for records. So far, I’ve written a locality guide for Ozark County, Missouri, where Bertie’s parents married. I’ve found extensive records on Bertie’s mother, Lucinda Webster, but little on Bertie’s father. Family records say his name was John Wellington and his two children , Daniel and Bertie, have their last name recorded as Wellington. So far, I’ve found John’s last name spelled as Wilington and Worlington; maybe that’s why no one has any records of John’s parents.

My next step is to gather information for a locality guide for Arkansas and while I’m at it, see if I can find any records of John and Lucinda Webster Wellington in Arkansas, using a wild card surname search of W*lington. I want to find out where Bertie was nine months before Dovey was born, so I’d love to find records in the 1888-89 time frame. Unfortunately, the 1890 census was destroyed in a fire, so that’s not available.

After that comes a locality guide for Texas, particularly Clay County, where James Wesley Piearcy and Bertie Wellington married in 1894.

It really may take DNA testing to break down this brick wall, so if you are a Piearcy cousin and are interested in DNA testing please contact me. In the meantime, I’ll keep working on this brick wall and through my study of MGP learn more about foot notes, several of which should have included on the above material. But stay posted, I’ll have more blogs on this family lines, with proper footnotes.

Here’s more about the book from the NGS website – Mastering Genealogical Proof aims to help researchers, students, and new family historians reconstruct relationships and lives of people they cannot see. It presents content in digestible chunks. Each chapter concludes with problems providing practice for  proficiently applying the chapter’s concepts. Those problems, like examples throughout the book, use real records, real research, and real issues. Answers are at the back of the book along with a glossary of technical terms and an extensive resource list.5


  • Preface
  • Chapter 1 – Genealogy’s Standard of Proof
  • Chapter 2 – Concepts Fundamental to the GPS
  • Chapter 3 – GPS Element 1: Thorough Research
  • Chapter 4 GPS Element 2: Source Citations
  • Chapter 5 GPS Element 3: Analysis and Correlation
    Chapter 6 GPS Element 4: Resolving Conflicts and Assembling Evidence
  • Chapter 7 GPS Element 5: The Written Conclusion
  • Chapter 8 – Using the GPS
  • Chapter 9 – Conclusion
  • Appendix A – Pritchett Article
  • Appendix B – McLain Article
  • Glossary
  • Reading and Source List
  • Answers to exercises

MGP can be ordered through the NGS website. If you are a member, log in first, to get the discount.


  1. Thomas W. Jones Ph.D, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS is certified by the Board for Certification of Genealogists as a Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer, and is a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists, Utah Genealogical Society and the National Genealogical Society.  He has co-edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly since 2002 and is a trustee and a past president of the Board for Certification of Genealogists.
  2. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).
  3. Angela Packer McGhie, “Five Gen Proof Study Groups Open for Registration,” Adventures in Genealogy Education, posted 07 Sept 2013 ( : accessed 09 Sept 2013).
  4. Pat Richley-Erickson, “MGP Study Group – Hangouts on Air,” DearMYRTLE, posted 17 Mar 2013 ( : accessed 09 Sept 2013). [NOTE: While DearMYRTLE’s MGP Study Group is finished, the YouTube videos are still available, accessed 09 Sept 2013, to watch the videos just click on the video tab in DearMYRTLE’s YouTube.
  5. National Genealogical Society, “Mastering Genealogical Proof,” NGS Special Publications( : accessed 09 Sept 2013).
Copyright © 2013 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

About Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Genealogy research on my own ancestors is a new focus. Posts will include information about those ancestors including the social and economic issues, along with techniques for research.
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