What is the GenDetective Analysis?

I was recently asked “Is the GenDetective Analysis that you talk about the same as what I heard about in this genealogy class I just took”? and thought we might discuss the answer today.  The answer is No, and a little bit yes.  Really.

In genealogy classes we are taught to examine the information we have gathered, to evaluate it in an attempt to determine if our information pertains to our ancestor.  To examine whether the information gathered, “makes sense” or, if there are discrepancies, can the discrepancies can be explained in a logical way, and do we have any additional evidence to support our conclusions.  We examine our sources, to determine if they are reliable, and identify any potential sources we should search for that may help support or disprove our current conclusions.  It is that last part, identifying additional sources, where there is overlap with GenDetective and its analysis.

GenDetective examines the data that you have assembled for each family member and identifies:

  1. Missing vital statistics (birth, death)
  2. Missing census records (state, national, census substitutes you have defined)
  3. Possible military service
  4. Missing marriage information
  5. Missing immigration information
  6. Generic locations for an event (California or Germany …)
  7. Missing sources

GenDetective also assembles the information on a geographic basis so that you can more easily:

  1. Plan a research trip (to hopefully find those missing records/facts/sources, information)
  2. Identify online records to search for
  3. Match a specific source (online, microfilm, book, etc) to the people in your family who lived in a specific area, by years

The difference?  The analysis taught in many genealogy classes teaches us to examine each piece of evidence we have found to determine if we have the right Michael Smith.  GenDetective will never be able to say: You have found the right Michael Smith.  It can say you have found a lot of very precise information for a Michael Smith.

Only you, the genealogist, can evaluate the content of the records you have gathered to determine if they all refer to the same Michael Smith and that it is your Michael Smith.  GenDetective can help you with the process of arranging of the data and the many different gathering phases of our investigation, but it can only interpret what you have recorded in your family tree, it can not interpret the content of the actual records.

Does that make sense?

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