Genealogical Evidence and Proofs

Example of genealogical evidence

To help current and future members with filing applications, the Minnesota SAR State Genealogist and membership coordinator, John Sassaman, has produced a good example of how the SAR likes to see evidence. An application form needs at least one piece of evidence to prove every fact provided. To help navigate this example, here are the generations described in the document:

  • 2: Clarence + Kathleen Parson
  • 3: Nettie Taylor Parson
  • 4: Charles + Charlotte Taylor
  • 5: James + Mary Taylor
  • 6: Harry + Assenath Taylor
  • 7: Patriot Lemuel + Ada Taylor

This example omits the first generation. New applications generally provide that information using the applicant’s birth certificate and, if appropriate, a marriage certificate. Detailed, official records provide the best proof, but they are hard to find for people born before the 20th century. Census reports and court records often identify family relationships, and are used as genealogical proof if no other documents exist. This example contains several such documents.

Click Below to Download the Example

Electronic Application Files

While the SAR does not accept electronic applications at the national level, the Minnesota Society uses electronic files to share and check applications before final submission. Here are typical files provided with a completed application:

  • The application form.
  • SAR record copies, if any are cited in the application, and the State Society requires them.
  • DAR record copies, if any are cited in the application.
  • The proof document, containing images of additional genealogical evidence.

The national office does not require the submission of SAR record copies when cited in an application. Individual state genealogists may require them; contact the state genealogist for guidance. The Minnesota Society does not require SAR record copies.

Neither SAR nor DAR record copies should be used if they were approved before 1985. Genealogical proof standards were revised at that time. Older applications may not contain acceptable proofs for new applications.

Preparing the Proof Document

The proof document is a typical document file that contains both text and images. It contains evidence for any relationships or facts that are not documented in record copies. The example below uses Microsoft Word, but free and online word processors may also be used. Here is how the document is prepared:

  1. Retrieve images of the documents being used. Use a scanner or smart phone to copy individual documents, or personal copies of those documents. If the document comes from an Internet site, download the document’s image or “screen capture” it on the computer. In larger documents, like wills, be sure to underline the relevant portions of the text with a fine line, preferably red. On paper documents, use a fine tipped pen. Do not use highlighters.
  2. Name each image file to indicate the generation and the contents of the image. For example, an applicant might provide files named “G1 My BC.jpg”, “G1 Wife BC.gif”, “G2 Father BC.png”, “G2 Mother BC.jpg”.
  3. Import the images into a single document, in order by generation. It is usually best to use one page per document image. Add a line of text (a caption) to each image: identify the generation and the document. Provide additional text if needed to explain the document’s contents.
  4. Save the word processing document (a .doc or .docx file in MS Word).
  5. Export the document as a PDF file. Everyone can read PDF files, and not everyone can read a Word file. If possible, indicate that the PDF file is for web publishing. This usually reduces the file size: the .doc file might be 20MB but the web-publishing PDF may be only 1MB.