Want to be a better genealogist? Take the inventory below to identify a baby step you can take to become a better genealogist.
In each table below, read the descriptions for each level. Place a check mark in the row that best describes you. If you have any questions about the meaning of words, read “Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM) Definitions.”
Typically relies on compiled genealogies.
Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.
Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.
Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.
Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types. "Burned counties" are not roadblocks.
Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.
Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.
Typically produces complete source citations.
Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.
Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.
Typically does not realize the need to judge information quality and has no basis for doing so.
Emerging realization that information quality differs. Muddles evaluation by thinking of primary/secondary sources instead of primary/secondary information, leading to muddled evaluation when sources contain both.
Judges information by source type, informant knowledge, and record timing. Applies "primary/secondary" to information instead of sources.
Additionally, learns history necessary to recognize and evaluate all explicit information in a source.
Additionally, utilizes implicit information in a source. Finds information in cases like illegitimacy that stump most researchers.
Limited understanding of evidence and the role it plays. Typically ignores conflicting evidence.
Captures direct, supporting evidence and increasingly depends upon it.
Additionally, captures directly conflicting evidence.
Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, supporting evidence.
Additionally, recognizes and captures indirect, conflicting evidence.
In the absence of analysis, reaches conclusions by instinct.
Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence. Emerging ability to resolve minor discrepancies.
Additionally, resolves conflicting evidence or uses it to disprove prevalent opinion. Usually applies correct identity to persons mentioned in sources.
Additionally, when necessary creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions utilizing direct and indirect evidence.
Additionally: Publishes clear and convincing conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.
Merges or combines individuals in trees without evidence.
Growing hesitancy to merge or combine individuals without evidence.
Never merges entire compiled genealogies into own tree. Contributes or changes community trees only with evidence.
Manages evidence separately from conclusion tree. Not interested in trusting high quality conclusions to a low maturity community tree.
Publishes highly respected conclusion trees.
Review the categories and pick one to work on. See what you need to do to advance from your current level to the next level. Make that your goal. Don’t try and work on all categories at once. Baby steps. Don’t try to skip levels. Baby steps. Commit to yourself and focus your efforts on that one, little goal.
Once you’ve accomplished that goal, come back and pick another area for improvement.
What Level Are You?
This next exercise is optional. It is a non-scientific method of determining your “genealogical maturity.” Write your level number in the table below for each category above. Add up all the numbers and write the total in the last row.
In the table below, find the range that includes your score. Your genealogical maturity is listed on the same row.
|6 - 11||1. Entry|
|12 - 17||2. Emerging|
|18 - 23||3. Practicing|
|24 - 29||4. Proficient|
Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t a five, or a four, or even a full three. No level is good or bad. It’s just like kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, and high school. There is no shame in having gone through the levels. That’s normal. And remember, these levels are not scientific.
The important thing is that you concentrate on the small, realistic, measurable, baby steps that will make you a better genealogist.