Institutes that only admit scholars

While researching a noble line, I am finding references to several medieval manuscripts, such as chronicles of noble houses. Many of these chronicles have been published by reputable publishing houses or archives (annotated transcriptions, usually). 

The original manuscripts can often be found in academic libraries, special collections of archives, or the Vatican. In several cases, access to these libraries is only open to academic scholars, with a letter of introduction from the head of their department or with endorsements of multiple members of the institution. They won't allow genealogists access to the records. 

In such cases, can the GPS be met without consulting the originals, but by relying on published transcriptions? Whether the information in those publications provides enough evidence to meet the GPS would be a separate part of the analysis, I am just asking whether not using the originals would automatically disqualify the proof argument from meeting the GPS.

In my opinion I could meet the GPS by using transcriptions. We use the best quality evidence available. I don't see the difference between an original that's unavailable because it burned, or because it's unavailable because the owner won't let me see it. But it's very frustrating to know that the manuscript survives but cannot be consulted and I would love to hear other opinions.

Submitted byEEon Thu, 03/14/2019 - 13:35

Yvette, I'm assuming you mean "scholars with academic affiliations," given that your field has scholars also. It's actually a problem faced by "independent scholars" in many fields.

The first criteria of the GPS that you've invoked calls for "Reasonably exhaustive research—emphasizing original records ... ." It doesn't say using original records exclusively. 

When we consider the individual standards that underpin the GPS, Standard 38 "Source Preference" tells us "Whenever possible, genealogists prefer to reason from original records ... ."

When we are denied access to the originals and told to use the derivative works created by scholars in other fields, if we don't have a magic wand to wave or a magic string to pull, then our course of action is guided by those two words "Whenever possible." If access is not possible, then use of those records is not possible. We then use the next-best version available and add a note explaining why access to the original is not possible.

Submitted byyhoitinkon Sat, 03/16/2019 - 09:55

I meant people associated with a university, like tenured professors, PhD students, etc. Many institutes in Europe only allow access to people in the academic world. Thank you for confirming that I can still meet the GPS if the owners won't allow me to access the originals.