Best of ESM

After hanging up the speaking mic in October 2021, Elizabeth Shown Mills, genealogy’s pioneer in problem-solving methodology, returns in 2023 with Legacy Family Tree Webinars. Join us each month as Elizabeth encores her top-12 most beloved classes, teaching us how to break down our genealogy problems and create solutions with innovative strategies and sound methods. The classes are pre-recorded for the live watch parties.

This series is accessible only with a webinar membership. Webinar members have access to the live events, the class replays, and the class syllabus materials.

To attend the live events 1) register for the webinar (must be logged in as a webinar member to register); 2) on the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member); 3) click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation email, and enter the password when prompted.

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163 Upcoming Live Webinars Clear filter
Smiths & Joneses: Success with Families of Common Name
Fri, February 24 2023: 19:00 UTC
“Identity theft” happens easily with common-name families. This session uses two case studies from two different societies—a Jones family from the Northern U.S. and a Smith family from the South—to demonstrate how to work safely with common-name families. The first ten minutes ground the audience in four problem-solving models. On that foundation, Mills then walks her class through sources and strategies that are often overlooked amid today’s reliance upon database searches, provider hints, and crowd-sourcing. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
“Identity theft” happens easily with common-name families. This session uses two case studies from two different societies—a Jones family from the Northern U.S. and a Smith family from the South—to demonstrate how to work safely with common-name families. The first ten minutes ground the audience in four problem-solving models. On that foundation, Mills then walks her class through sources and strategies that are often overlooked amid today’s reliance upon database searches, provider hints, and crowd-sourcing. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, February 24 2023: 19:00 UTC
Using Negative Evidence: The Power of Silence in the Records
Fri, March 24 2023: 18:00 UTC
Can genealogists take a negative (the absence of something) and develop it into a positive (proof of something)? Yes! If we understand what we’re working with and how to develop it. Negative evidence is a tool used by many investigative fields; but its definition varies between disciplines. This session defines the concept used by genealogists and historians: contextually suggestive silence. In layman’s language, Mills clearly separates negative evidence from concepts that are often confused with it: negative searches, negative findings, negative arguments, and negative conclusions. Case studies using autosomal and Y-DNA, censuses, church records, death certificates, land deeds and grants, topo maps, and other source types to demonstrate how to recognize contextually suggestive silence and develop it into solutions for situations in which no document explicitly answers our research question. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Can genealogists take a negative (the absence of something) and develop it into a positive (proof of something)? Yes! If we understand what we’re working with and how to develop it. Negative evidence is a tool used by many investigative fields; but its definition varies between disciplines. This session defines the concept used by genealogists and historians: contextually suggestive silence. In layman’s language, Mills clearly separates negative evidence from concepts that are often confused with it: negative searches, negative findings, negative arguments, and negative conclusions. Case studies using autosomal and Y-DNA, censuses, church records, death certificates, land deeds and grants, topo maps, and other source types to demonstrate how to recognize contextually suggestive silence and develop it into solutions for situations in which no document explicitly answers our research question. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, March 24 2023: 18:00 UTC
Fri, April 14 2023: 21:00 UTC
Elusive Ancestors: Never Too Poor to Trace
Fri, April 14 2023: 21:00 UTC
Everyone has ancestors who seem to mysteriously appear and then dissolve into the ether, existing nowhere except a family story, a census, or a Bible entry. When deeds, wills, and other standard records fail to yield more information, “too poor to trace!” is a common conclusion—but a wrong one. Many neglected sources include propertyless men, women, and children. This class explores those sources and defines strategies we can use to develop clues, even from records that do not specifically name our ancestors.
Everyone has ancestors who seem to mysteriously appear and then dissolve into the ether, existing nowhere except a family story, a census, or a Bible entry. When deeds, wills, and other standard records fail to yield more information, “too poor to trace!” is a common conclusion—but a wrong one. Many neglected sources include propertyless men, women, and children. This class explores those sources and defines strategies we can use to develop clues, even from records that do not specifically name our ancestors.
Fri, April 14 2023: 21:00 UTC
Okay, I ‘Got the Neighbors’—Now What Do I Do with Them?!
Fri, April 28 2023: 18:00 UTC
We’ve all heard the mantra Get the Neighbors! But exactly how do we use “other people’s” information to solve problems of identity, kinship, and origin for our own ancestors? This session teaches critical skills for building networks around problem ancestors, methods for analyzing and prioritizing associations, and strategies for milking clues from the records those neighbors created. All can be developed into solutions for our toughest research problems. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
We’ve all heard the mantra Get the Neighbors! But exactly how do we use “other people’s” information to solve problems of identity, kinship, and origin for our own ancestors? This session teaches critical skills for building networks around problem ancestors, methods for analyzing and prioritizing associations, and strategies for milking clues from the records those neighbors created. All can be developed into solutions for our toughest research problems. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, April 28 2023: 18:00 UTC
Samuel Witter vs. Samuel Witter: Separating Same-Name Soldiers, War of 1812
Fri, May 26 2023: 18:00 UTC
Online research today is immensely rewarding. Major genealogical data sites and software perform automatic searches for us and suggest documents bearing the names of people we are pursuing. However, every document we collect presents an identity issue we have to resolve before we can validly use it to build our family tree. This presentation demonstrates why, using three men named Samuel Witter whose descendants have all claimed for him the same War of 1812 service. As Mills separates the three Samuels, she explores the standards that govern our development of evidence, the Congressional laws that must guide our decisions, and the strategies needed to differentiate between men and correctly assign military service. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Online research today is immensely rewarding. Major genealogical data sites and software perform automatic searches for us and suggest documents bearing the names of people we are pursuing. However, every document we collect presents an identity issue we have to resolve before we can validly use it to build our family tree. This presentation demonstrates why, using three men named Samuel Witter whose descendants have all claimed for him the same War of 1812 service. As Mills separates the three Samuels, she explores the standards that govern our development of evidence, the Congressional laws that must guide our decisions, and the strategies needed to differentiate between men and correctly assign military service. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, May 26 2023: 18:00 UTC
What’s the Evidence? How to Probe Documents Beyond the Obvious
Fri, June 23 2023: 18:00 UTC
Whatever our research dilemma, a correct solution depends upon a reliable evaluation of the evidence we are using. Evidence is not concrete. It is not definitive. It is not a source. It is not a fact. It is not “proof.” It is, instead, our interpretation of what a piece of information means. Evidence is both singular and collective. We analyze it piece by piece. We correlate each piece with everything else discoverable, and then we analyze the whole to reach conclusions that are reliable. This session walks us through the three levels at which each piece of information should be evaluated, in order to draw a reliable conclusion from it. The principles are then illustrated with a common but thorny problem: a Revolutionary War–era case study that might be called: How to Identify Someone Who’s Been Mangled by ‘Facts.’ *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Whatever our research dilemma, a correct solution depends upon a reliable evaluation of the evidence we are using. Evidence is not concrete. It is not definitive. It is not a source. It is not a fact. It is not “proof.” It is, instead, our interpretation of what a piece of information means. Evidence is both singular and collective. We analyze it piece by piece. We correlate each piece with everything else discoverable, and then we analyze the whole to reach conclusions that are reliable. This session walks us through the three levels at which each piece of information should be evaluated, in order to draw a reliable conclusion from it. The principles are then illustrated with a common but thorny problem: a Revolutionary War–era case study that might be called: How to Identify Someone Who’s Been Mangled by ‘Facts.’ *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, June 23 2023: 18:00 UTC
Problem Solving in the Problem-Riddled Carolina Backcountry
Fri, July 28 2023: 18:00 UTC
The Carolina backcountry is known for its genealogical roadblocks: from social and geographic challenges to record destruction, to the failure to create records in the first place. This session begins by examining the cultural influences that have created the problems—influences we need to understand if we are to develop alternative resources and approaches. Building on this foundation, Mills then explores thirty-two strategies for overcoming research obstacles, using a variety of short case studies and little-known materials to illustrate key points. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
The Carolina backcountry is known for its genealogical roadblocks: from social and geographic challenges to record destruction, to the failure to create records in the first place. This session begins by examining the cultural influences that have created the problems—influences we need to understand if we are to develop alternative resources and approaches. Building on this foundation, Mills then explores thirty-two strategies for overcoming research obstacles, using a variety of short case studies and little-known materials to illustrate key points. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, July 28 2023: 18:00 UTC
Turning Witnesses into Evidence
Fri, August 25 2023: 18:00 UTC
Witnesses are not afterthoughts tacked onto the end of documents. Although they filled a routine role for our ancestors, they are significant informants for us—once we learn how to use those names to develop evidence. This session approaches the topic in two ways: theory and application. It explores record types that offer witnesses, ways in which witnesses were used, situations that affected the choice of witnesses, signals that indicate whether a witness would be important to our research, and methods to apply in our development of the clues they offer. A challenging case study presents an unmarried freedwoman, never named in any census, who died about 1817—and applies key strategies to determine her death and burial sites. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Witnesses are not afterthoughts tacked onto the end of documents. Although they filled a routine role for our ancestors, they are significant informants for us—once we learn how to use those names to develop evidence. This session approaches the topic in two ways: theory and application. It explores record types that offer witnesses, ways in which witnesses were used, situations that affected the choice of witnesses, signals that indicate whether a witness would be important to our research, and methods to apply in our development of the clues they offer. A challenging case study presents an unmarried freedwoman, never named in any census, who died about 1817—and applies key strategies to determine her death and burial sites. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, August 25 2023: 18:00 UTC
Margaret’s Baby’s Father & The Lessons He Taught Me
Fri, September 22 2023: 19:30 UTC
Illegitimacy. Poverty. Footloose fathers. Record destruction. Name changes. Conflicting data. Forged Bibles. Careless research by predecessors. All these problems can be overcome even when all are combined into one perplexing person. This session presents eight basic principles on which sound research is grounded. For each, it demonstrates how to apply that principle, drawing upon the presenter’s famed case that proved James Ball of Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, to be the father of a child born to an unmarried mother in 1824 Louisiana. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Illegitimacy. Poverty. Footloose fathers. Record destruction. Name changes. Conflicting data. Forged Bibles. Careless research by predecessors. All these problems can be overcome even when all are combined into one perplexing person. This session presents eight basic principles on which sound research is grounded. For each, it demonstrates how to apply that principle, drawing upon the presenter’s famed case that proved James Ball of Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, to be the father of a child born to an unmarried mother in 1824 Louisiana. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, September 22 2023: 19:30 UTC
Dissection & Analysis of Research Problems: 10 Steps to a Solution
Fri, October 27 2023: 18:00 UTC
Solutions to tough problems are not just “found.” They are analytically constructed. This session explains how to break down problems into their most-critical elements. It summarizes the types of questions and tests that should be applied to each. Then it demonstrates how to analyze, rank, and assemble the resulting answers into an effective research plan. In this process you’ll walk through ten steps, learning how to apply micro and macro analysis, evaluate prior conclusions, argue with their evidence, develop targeted worksheets, and complete a plan of action that can be pursued as time permits. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Solutions to tough problems are not just “found.” They are analytically constructed. This session explains how to break down problems into their most-critical elements. It summarizes the types of questions and tests that should be applied to each. Then it demonstrates how to analyze, rank, and assemble the resulting answers into an effective research plan. In this process you’ll walk through ten steps, learning how to apply micro and macro analysis, evaluate prior conclusions, argue with their evidence, develop targeted worksheets, and complete a plan of action that can be pursued as time permits. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, October 27 2023: 18:00 UTC
Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the-Mill Records
Fri, December 22 2023: 19:00 UTC
The records we use are filled with “trivia,” bits and pieces of information that seem to have no “genealogical” value—at least not until we become more innovative in our research and analysis. Each piece of trivia in every document is an opportunity waiting to be connected to something else. Our ability to resolve problems depends upon our ability to make those connections. This class explores eighteen types of records and the kind of hidden clues each offers to help us resolve problems of identity, kinship, and origin. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
The records we use are filled with “trivia,” bits and pieces of information that seem to have no “genealogical” value—at least not until we become more innovative in our research and analysis. Each piece of trivia in every document is an opportunity waiting to be connected to something else. Our ability to resolve problems depends upon our ability to make those connections. This class explores eighteen types of records and the kind of hidden clues each offers to help us resolve problems of identity, kinship, and origin. *** This class requires a password and an active webinar membership to attend. On the day of the webinar, obtain the password (located at the top of FamilyTreeWebinars.com when logged in as a member). Then click the Join Webinar link in your confirmation/reminder email, and enter the password when prompted. ***
Fri, December 22 2023: 19:00 UTC

Featured Webinars

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Advanced
1:21:34
Trousers, Black Domestic, Tacks & Housekeeping Bills: Problem-Solving with “Trivial Details”
The records we use are filled with “trivia,” bits and pieces of information that seem to have no “genealogical” value—at least not until we become more innovative in our research and analysis. Each piece of trivia in every document is an opportunity waiting to be connected to something else. Our ability to resolve problems depends upon our ability to make those connections. This class explores eighteen types of records and the kind of hidden clues each offers to help us resolve problems of identity, kinship, and origin. *** This class requires an active webinar membership to attend. ***
The records we use are filled with “trivia,” bits and pieces of information that seem to have no “genealogical” value—at least not until we become more innovative in our research and analysis. Each piece of trivia in every document is an opportunity waiting to be connected to something else. Our ability to resolve problems depends upon our ability to make those connections. This class explores eighteen types of records and the kind of hidden clues each offers to help us resolve problems of identity, kinship, and origin. *** This class requires an active webinar membership to attend. ***
Fri, January 27 2023: 19:00 UTC
9:38
3.6K views
CC
Free
Elizabeth Shown Mills reveals her secret to success in genealogy
As the genealogy world anxiously awaits the January 27, 2023 return of Elizabeth Shown Mills, Geoff Rasmussen had the pleasure to interview Elizabeth about her new webinar series. She talks about why she’s returning from retirement, what the webinar series is all about, and gives advice for both beginning and experienced genealogists. She also reveals her secret to success in genealogy.
As the genealogy world anxiously awaits the January 27, 2023 return of Elizabeth Shown Mills, Geoff Rasmussen had the pleasure to interview Elizabeth about her new webinar series. She talks about why she’s returning from retirement, what the webinar series is all about, and gives advice for both beginning and experienced genealogists. She also reveals her secret to success in genealogy.
Fri, January 20 2023: 17:00 UTC
Advanced
1:27:48
1.0K views
Free
Hints & Tips for Solving Irish Cases of Unknown Parentage Using DNA
There are many examples of Unknown Parentage cases in Ireland – illegal adoptees, a foundling grandparent, or simply an Irish Brick Wall. This talk explores the approach to solving these cases, the challenges faced with Irish records, and some hints & tips to overcome them using DNA.
There are many examples of Unknown Parentage cases in Ireland – illegal adoptees, a foundling grandparent, or simply an Irish Brick Wall. This talk explores the approach to solving these cases, the challenges faced with Irish records, and some hints & tips to overcome them using DNA.
Wed, February 8 2023: 19:00 UTC
1:13:24
486 views
CC
Free
Gradual Emancipation and Enslavement in the North
Slavery existed in some northern states well into the 19th century. Learn about the motives for gradual emancipation, how it affected enslaved African Americans and enslavers at this time, the state laws surrounding slavery, and the records that it created.
Slavery existed in some northern states well into the 19th century. Learn about the motives for gradual emancipation, how it affected enslaved African Americans and enslavers at this time, the state laws surrounding slavery, and the records that it created.
Fri, February 3 2023: 19:00 UTC
1:23:35
1.7K views
CC
Free
Using Mitochondrial DNA Testing for Genealogical Problem Solving
Utilizing this form of DNA testing in genealogy garners a lot of negative advice. Learn how vitally important this kind of testing can be when you use DNA as an active tool in the genealogical toolbox. This case study will show you how pairing good research and DNA testing can be the perfect marriage.
Michael D. Lacopo, DVM
Utilizing this form of DNA testing in genealogy garners a lot of negative advice. Learn how vitally important this kind of testing can be when you use DNA as an active tool in the genealogical toolbox. This case study will show you how pairing good research and DNA testing can be the perfect marriage.
Wed, February 1 2023: 19:00 UTC
1:07:48
479 views
CC
Settlers, Squatters and Selectors: Land ownership in Australia, 1788-1900
Since the early days of British settlement in Australia, land has been considered to be one of its greatest assets. Until 1831, some settlers received large grants of land while others were entitled to only 30 acres, plus an additional 20 acres if married and 10 acres for each child. Over the next seventy years, the colonies developed their own land allocation schemes, each devised for a specific purpose. This presentation will highlight the records which relate to Crown Land, pastoral runs, land selection, occupation records, land orders and land ownership.
Since the early days of British settlement in Australia, land has been considered to be one of its greatest assets. Until 1831, some settlers received large grants of land while others were entitled to only 30 acres, plus an additional 20 acres if married and 10 acres for each child. Over the next seventy years, the colonies developed their own land allocation schemes, each devised for a specific purpose. This presentation will highlight the records which relate to Crown Land, pastoral runs, land selection, occupation records, land orders and land ownership.
Wed, February 1 2023: 1:00 UTC
1:22:14
Trail of Tears to Indian Territory
Following the 1830 Indian Removal Act about 100,000 American Indians were forced from their homes to westward lands. Follow their story, their trails, and their records.
Following the 1830 Indian Removal Act about 100,000 American Indians were forced from their homes to westward lands. Follow their story, their trails, and their records.
Wed, January 25 2023: 19:00 UTC
1:20:05
1.2K views
CC
Free
MyHeritage: Your Personal Genealogy Archive
Many of us are not able to travel to those places where our ancestors lived to do genealogy research. This should not deter us from finding information about our ancestors. MyHeritage can be your “home away from home” online archive to help you find information on your ancestors. Learn from a seasoned genealogist and archivist how to find archived records on MyHeritage from home.
Many of us are not able to travel to those places where our ancestors lived to do genealogy research. This should not deter us from finding information about our ancestors. MyHeritage can be your “home away from home” online archive to help you find information on your ancestors. Learn from a seasoned genealogist and archivist how to find archived records on MyHeritage from home.
Tue, January 24 2023: 19:00 UTC
1:30:37
Foundational Concepts & Reference Tools for Mexican Genealogy
We pour a lot of time, money, and soul into our family history research. So, we want to make sure we are tracing the right people and families in the right place at any given time, and that we glean all possible information and clues from the records. This presentation reviews social and cultural customs, and tools for learning about jurisdictions and key terminology. It is suitable for those still new to Mexican genealogy as well as more experienced researchers.
We pour a lot of time, money, and soul into our family history research. So, we want to make sure we are tracing the right people and families in the right place at any given time, and that we glean all possible information and clues from the records. This presentation reviews social and cultural customs, and tools for learning about jurisdictions and key terminology. It is suitable for those still new to Mexican genealogy as well as more experienced researchers.
Fri, January 20 2023: 19:00 UTC