Turning Raw Information into Evidence: Tips for Drawing and Explaining Conclusions

J. H. (“Jay”) Fonkert, CG
Apr 20, 2021
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About BCG
5m 25s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 14s
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5m 51s
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Questions matter
15m 10s
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Information matters
14m 28s
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Matters of logic
9m 44s
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Evidence Exclaimed
15m 47s
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4m 40s
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1m 52s
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Questions / answers
11m 35s

About this webinar

Brush up on your evidence analysis skills. Grasp the difference between direct and indirect evidence. Understand how to logically weave indirect evidence to answer a research question. Learn how to craft a proof statement, a proof summary, or a more complex proof argument.

About the speaker

About the speaker

J. H. (“Jay”) Fonkert researches Dutch Zorgdragers, English Tidballs, and Kentucky Fawkners from his home in Roseville, Minnesota. He is past-president of the Minnesota Genealogical Society and co-managing editor of Minnesota Genea
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  1. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    A lot of new ideas to draw the conclusion and to write it.

    A well laid out presentation for people seeking answers to often complex problems. Thank you!

    About 10 years ago, I was lucky enough to be in a ProGen study group where Jay was our group mentor. He provided valuable feedback, example & support. It has been great to witness his scholarly work through the years – and fantastic and educational to hear him present tonight. Great webinar! Thanks, Jay and FTW!

    Absolutely excellent. I learned so much

    Although was able to take in last 3/4 hr. It was very informative & looking forward to listening again.

    Always a good presentation!

    Answered specific questions I had, with good examples.

    As a genealogist looking to start a freelance career in the field, hearing the reiteration of how to search out, categorise, and report on evidence was fantastic.

    Bravo well done

    Can review the handout.

    Clear and motivating with a great supporting syllabus.

    Complex… but so is genealogy research adhering to the GPS

    Easy to listen and learn from, thank you


    Excellent – explains “the standards” clearly without talking down to non-BCG researchers. Excellent.

    Excellent and many take always.

    Excellent detailed presentation – a must re-watch webinar!

    excellent ideas

    Excellent info.

    Excellent information AND advice.

    Excellent information and extremely well presented.

    Excellent information! Thank you

    Excellent information, well presented and easy to understand.

    Excellent information. Enjoyed it a lot.

    Excellent presentation and presenter!!

    Excellent presentation of material.

    EXCELLENT Presentation of Raw Evidence.

    Excellent presentation! So much informative information. I will certainly watch it again & again to get it right! Thank you! : )

    Excellent presentation!! Thank you!

    Excellent presentation. Thanks

    Excellent presenter and presentation. One can only hope folks will take his advice! Wish those researchers out there I have met over the years who continue to believe certian facts to be gospel would take advantage of seminars/webinars such as this one.

    Excellent speaker – well organized. Great examples.

    Excellent webinar

    Excellent, as always

    Excellent, thank you.

    Excellent, will be watching this one again!

  2. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Excellent. Clear explanations and illustrative examples. Also encouraging and inspiring confidence to go ahead.

    Excellent. Thanks for this webinar.


    First time I heard Jay present. Wow. Awesome! Thanks everyone.

    good info

    Good outline of procedures to follow.

    Great advice. . to just write it and add additional proofs later. I always feel like I need one more piece of evidence. . .

    Great analogies! He really put some difficult concepts into easy to understand language.

    Great class in logical thinking, researching, and then expressing your findings in a logical, easy to understand, and easy to explain method. Should be taught for all disciplines. Time well spent.

    Great detailed information! Thanks!

    Great info – so many great methods for dealing with what so many deal with – as we get back to the late 18th/early 19th century. WILL be watching again.

    Great information!

    Great information! I plan to just start writing so I can see where my gaps are and get those proof statements started for my future self.

    Great information, excellent examples!

    Great information. And, a reminder to get into the habit to write consistently.

    Great job thank you!

    Great points!

    Great presentation, but I don’t think the presenter’s examples helped to explain the concepts, especially of inductive reasoning. I was a little confused there.

    Great presentation, especially about drawing conclusions from your evidence or lack of. I also like his encouraging tips on writing. Thank you!

    Great presentation. Very informative.

    Great presentation….almost too much information for the time allotted

    Great speaker – great handout.

    Great webinar and really helpful. Thank you

    he expanded on easier understanding of the variables in proof summaries.

    he gave good examples as well as explained things

    Heavy stuff.

    Helped better understand the GPS.

    Helpful info. I haven’t done proofing but need to start. Finally getting back past the easy stuff, time to start writing !! thanks

    Helpful to listen to someone trace logic.

    I r e a l l y — n e e d — to listen to this – again and again and again. Thank you.

    I can see now, I need to go back and restart . . . . . . . . I wish I had taken this class earlier, but I know what I need to do. GREAT webinar!!!!

    I can use these tips for my European research

    I enjoyed his explanations and examples. I really enjoy these “nuts and bolts” lectures because they are slowly cementing these skills into my repertoire.

    I hate it when things come together — Jay made my research exponentially more immense! So little time — Jane had too many children — and I AM SO EXCITED! Multi reasons to get up to morrow!

    I liked the insight given on how to write out my finding, to get on the clock. Loved it.

    I love how things come along to refresh what a person has learned previously but is just now ready to put into better practice!

    I need to work on that!

    I will definitely be watching this one again.

    I would have preferred this webinar to have been broken down into several different webinars. e.g applying deductive reasoning, applying inductive reasoning etc.

    I’ve learned so much about proof statements. I will listen again and add more notes for reference. Thank you.

    If it’s not written down, it’s not evidence. Great way to look at research

    I’m amateur researcher–just for my family. I just wonder how formal / standardized I need to be.

    I’m not a professional genealogist. This will be hard to do, but I’m going to try.

    Informative. Good use of examples.

    Invaluable advice.

    It helped me where I need it and helped build my confidence. Thx

    Jay did a great job!!

  3. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    Jay is EXCELLENT!

    Jay was very good! I found the webinar extremely helpful. My thanks to him!

    Jay’s talk was excellent. Particularly enjoyed his discussion of inductive versus deductive logic when writing a proof argument as well as his tips about writing. Well done!

    Just fine – thanks.

    Just got thru watching a previous talk he gave and it was much the same with many of the same examples.

    more confidence in writing explanation of findings

    Mr. Fonkert will now be listed as one of my “go to” lecturers. His information was clear and engaging for those of us trying to work through and think about complex genealogical problems. He provided many tools and concepts that I am going to be able to use immediately.

    Nice job! Tough topic to cover in an hour but Jay does it well. “How to” examples were very helpful.

    Nice presentation. Well thought out and organized.

    Nicely represented.

    Out of all the webinars I attended, this was really one of the best. I feel that I can research and be able to pull facts together to make a reasonable conclusion. I always felt I had to have solid evidence, record or some kind of hard evidence to make a conclusion. A lot of my ancestors didn’t believe in speaking with census takers and didn’t have death certificates. My mother doesn’t have a birth certificate – she had to find someone who was around when she was born to confirm she was born. Thanks!

    Outstanding as Always !!

    Outstanding! Got so much out of this, having completed BU in Dec 2020 and taking pilot of Kimberly Powell’s “Writing for DIscovery” course currently. Just today did two peer reviews of proof arguments and evaluated my own against the BCG Rubic!

    Positive, encouraging us in writing, in getting the stuff in our brains on to paper where we can see more clearly; practical hints on how to accomplish it! Thank you so much!

    Really good webinar. I especially liked the deductive reasoning example

    Really informative. Learned a lot. Thanks.

    Really useful

    So good. Very clear concepts, examples, and so encouraging to everyone to understanding the steps to an excellent “exhaustive research” and on “writing proofs” – Learned a lot, was reminded of more points. I appreciate BCG webinars being available through Legacy.

    so much info, so many thoughts. a 2nd and 3 listening will be happening.

    so much information and really enjoyed it

    so much to learn!

    So much to learn, so little time, but Jay definitely shortened my learning curve this evening. Thank you so much FTWebinars and Jay for always providing such enlightening material!

    Some good points made. Thank you.

    Sorry had to leave hopefully will watch conclusion tomorrow.

    Succinct review of the research and evaluation process.

    Such a smart lecture. If I can fill my days with information like this I will be a genius soon!

    Super informative! Thank you!

    Thank you Jay for the wonderful examples. They make it so much easier to understand and learn.

    Thank you! Helped me see where I need to go and how to get there. AND I agree, write it now, edit later!!

    Thank you! Lots of information to digest, new resources to check out and my take away is to continue to write, write, write. Thanks Jay!

    Thanks for covering this topic!

    Thanks for encouraging us to strive for excellence.

    The slides represented the material well and gave visual learners information to easily grasp the concepts. Thank you Mr. Fonkert for a very well presented webinar.

    The speaker was awesome. He spoke at a good pace and a good depth.

    There was so much good information. I had trouble keeping up with taking notes. I will need to watch it again to digest all that was presented.

  4. Legacy Family Tree
    3 years ago

    This was a bread and butter lecture about proofs. Nicely done, but hoping for some rabbits.

    This was a great refresher for someone who has taken the BU Certificate course and completed ProGen.

    This was a refresher for me…but much needed. Thank you.

    This was just perfect for me and showed a disciplined way to move beyond merely collecting information.


    Useful presentation of ways of evaluating evidence in collected information to make accurate conclusions.

    v well done. thank you. take me back to Uni 55 years ago…

    Very clear instructions!

    Very clear!

    Very clearly presented. Good examples. I learned about how to write a proof statement or summary in a very concise and simple manner. Thank you.

    very complete and informative information

    Very good.

    Very Helpful

    Very helpful

    Very helpful and informative. Just felt that it moved too fast–could not take notes fast enough.

    Very helpful! I’m attempting to write a detailed report for someone and after a year of NO documents available on the subject person. This gave me some hope to keep searching and also not be afraid to indicate a lack of evidence in a report.

    Very helpful–finally someone made the distinctions between proof summary, report and arguments. Much thanks!

    Very Informative

    very informative

    Very informative and explained a lot of things I had questions about. Thank you so much for a great webinar!

    Very informative and helpful. I will be reviewing this webinar as I write research reports.

    Very informative and well presented

    Very informative however I would have liked to have seen more applications in writing to the average audience (not just to other researchers or Genealogist) like to family members.

    Very informative webinar. Well done.

    Very informative!

    Very informative! Thank you!

    Very informative, understandable, and definitely timely for me as I am beginning to solve a mystery in my husband’s family!

    Very interesting and not as daunting as some of the literature makes it out! Thank You

    Very interesting review

    Very interesting talk, I love the suggestion to “Write now, get it right later” as I keep putting off starting my proof argument, so today is the day!!

    very interesting. I sometimes think that some people make their information fit their tree.

    very logical. will be helpful as I go forward

    Very much enjoyed the information and examples!

    Very nice presentation!

    Very thorough discussion with plentiful examples, well explained.

    Very useful examples to illustrate basic principles of genealogical research. Thank you.

    Very well done!

    Webinars like this are always so helpful because despite the standards that everyone follows, different people approach it differently, and one person’s way of explaining it resonates in different ways. I especially appreciated the example used for showing inductive reasoning as this is all that’s possible sometimes.

    well explained about proof evidence with examples

    Wonderful information. Thank you!

    Wow, how wonderful! Thank you!

    Wow, very informative!! Great information, thank you!!


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