Jan 5 2013
DTP or Definitive Tangible Proof, in genealogy, is an item that provides direct evidence of the existence of an ancestor. Which can include, but is not limited to the following: birth/baptism/marriage/death records, military records, land deals (purchases/sales), tax lists/census, paintings/portraits/photographs, personal letters/journals, Wills/Estates, Probate records, Orphans “bound out” to individuals, grave markers, individual items used (passed down through the years), old photographs/paintings of homes, and so much more.
DTP is not a “transcription” of an actual item or document; it’s not a family “story” passed down through the years, it’s not names on a “Family Tree” (noting simply “Dates of Birth” and “Dates of Death”). It is an item that truly proves the existence of an individual, because it directly concerned them. Why do people seem to “shy away” from Genealogy, because it’s just a name, and nothing more? Each individual, on that “Family Tree” is not brought to life. You’ve heard it said, “That a picture paints a thousand words”, well in Genealogy it could not be truer.
I’m not simply talking about a picture of an individual, mind you. I’m talking about being able to hold an actual copy of someone’s birth record or marriage license, or Will, etc. That’s what brings this ancestor “alive”, and a yearning to know more. It makes you start asking questions, because you want to know more. What did they do for a living, did they fight in a war, how long did they live, what they died of, questions, questions, and more questions. Once you start finding answers to your questions and learning about one ancestor, then there is another ancestor, just waiting for you to learn, more.
Over the past several years, the Internet, has aided in the explosion of documentation available, to the Genealogist. More and more “digitalization” of old documents, from microfilm, etc. has been made available, many without cost to download the images for personal use. Yes, there are “pay sites” that you must subscribe to, in order to download copies, but you must weigh cost versus convenience, a personal decision. This can aide you, in the collecting and building up of your personal DTP documentation, all while sitting at home, using your computer. Now, for items not immediately available for accessing to download copies, they can still be found and requested from sources like libraries, genealogical societies, etc. Many States require an additional fee for “non-residents”, plus copies, postage, etc. Also, thanks to websites like Generous Genealogists, there are Volunteers, who are willing to do the “leg work” for you, and get the copies you need, which is a huge resource, to always keep in mind.
There are hundreds of genealogy websites, web groups, web forums, email groups, etc. with individuals and information to help you, when you get lost or run into a “genealogical brick wall”, please don’t hesitate to ask others, for their advice. They may not always have “the” answer, but they can give you some ideas or point you in the right direction. So, don’t underestimate the power of collaboration.
Definitive Tangible Proof is what brings an individual, back to life. It gives their lives meaning and sustenance. It can have “wow” power, like I didn’t know he fought in that war or she loved to cook biscuits and gravy, just like my mom. It can lead you back to where your family actually came from, before they lived in the United States or elsewhere. This could explain why you have red hair, or tan easily. Why heart trouble or Cancer seems to run in your family, or why twins seem to “pop up” so often, in your family tree. Show a child a piece of paper with a name, date of birth, date of death, and they will turn away bored, but show them a coin from 1750, that was used when one of their direct ancestors was born and you have their full attention. That’s what Definitive Tangible Proof can do.