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.
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