Context: A Powerful Tool for Problem Solving

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL
Free

Raw facts do not tell a story. They may not even tell the truth about what they do relate. As researchers, we seek original documents that offer us "the facts." But facts are impish devils, and historical records do not speak for themselves. They cannot explain themselves. They are inert objects created by individuals of a different time, a different culture, and who-knows-what mindset. If taken at face value, records and their "facts" can deceive, mislead, or confuse us. The only voice that documents have is the voice we give them. With every document we find, and every story we tell, we have a choice:

  • We can take what we see at face value, report it devoid of context, and run the risk of misrepresenting the circumstances. Or …
  • We can seek the context we need to understand the record, the event, and the person.
Fri, October 8 2021: 15:00 UTC

About the speaker

About the speaker

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a historical writer who has spent her life studying Southern culture and the relationships between people—emotional as well as genetic. Published widely by academic and popular presses, she edited a national-level schola
Learn more...

Related Webinars

Wed, September 22 2021: 0:00 UTC
Federal Records Relating to Rivers and Canals
Wed, September 22 2021: 0:00 UTC
Many federal records pertain to the development and use of waterways in the United States. This lecture shows examples and explains the relevance of some of the applicable records found at the National Archives in Washington, DC, in its online holdings, and at its regional facilities like Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas…
Many federal records pertain to the development and use of waterways in the United States. This lecture shows examples and explains the relevance of some of the applicable records found at the National Archives in Washington, DC, in its online holdings, and at its regional facilities like Chicago, Atlanta, Kansas…
Wed, September 22 2021: 0:00 UTC
Thu, September 23 2021: 0:00 UTC
Cluster Research: Using Groups of People to Find Your People
Thu, September 23 2021: 0:00 UTC
Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. They lived, worked, socialized, and married in the midst of a larger group of people. Those people included not just family members but friends, neighbors, employers and fellow employees, fellow churchgoers, and business associates. Genealogists often refers to this group with the…
Our ancestors did not live in a vacuum. They lived, worked, socialized, and married in the midst of a larger group of people. Those people included not just family members but friends, neighbors, employers and fellow employees, fellow churchgoers, and business associates. Genealogists often refers to this group with the…
Thu, September 23 2021: 0:00 UTC
Fri, October 8 2021: 16:15 UTC
Seven Immigration Methodologies, with Case Studies Across the Centuries
Fri, October 8 2021: 16:15 UTC
Family historians face significant challenges tracing immigrant ancestors. Changes in language, culture, family composition, given name, surname, country of residence, and occupation tend to obscure the origins of many immigrants. This presentation introduces seven methodologies to effectively trace immigrant origins, illustrated with examples from the early 1600s to the early...
Family historians face significant challenges tracing immigrant ancestors. Changes in language, culture, family composition, given name, surname, country of residence, and occupation tend to obscure the origins of many immigrants. This presentation introduces seven methodologies to effectively trace immigrant origins, illustrated with examples from the early 1600s to the early...
Fri, October 8 2021: 16:15 UTC
Fri, October 8 2021: 17:30 UTC
Investigate the Neighborhood to Advance Your Research
Fri, October 8 2021: 17:30 UTC
This lecture reveals the most powerful methodology available to genealogists. Family historians often begin their genealogical quest by researching only their direct ancestors. For many reasons the direct ancestor they search for may have left few records. The records that survive may not shed light on where the ancestor came…
This lecture reveals the most powerful methodology available to genealogists. Family historians often begin their genealogical quest by researching only their direct ancestors. For many reasons the direct ancestor they search for may have left few records. The records that survive may not shed light on where the ancestor came…
Fri, October 8 2021: 17:30 UTC
Fri, October 8 2021: 19:30 UTC
What am I missing? Recognizing Research Holes in Available Sources
Fri, October 8 2021: 19:30 UTC
Performing reasonably exhaustive research assumes researchers recognize the resources available to solve a research question. Genealogists must recognize pertinent resources available to solve a research question and understand the limits of each of those resources. This lecture helps to navigate the pitfalls.
Performing reasonably exhaustive research assumes researchers recognize the resources available to solve a research question. Genealogists must recognize pertinent resources available to solve a research question and understand the limits of each of those resources. This lecture helps to navigate the pitfalls.
Fri, October 8 2021: 19:30 UTC
Fri, October 8 2021: 20:45 UTC
Using Mind Mapping as a Visual Research Plan
Fri, October 8 2021: 20:45 UTC
Thorough analysis of each source document is how genealogists plan their next research steps. Including mind mapping as a visual method of analysis can help focus further research questions, point to missing sources, and support indirect evidence analysis.
Thorough analysis of each source document is how genealogists plan their next research steps. Including mind mapping as a visual method of analysis can help focus further research questions, point to missing sources, and support indirect evidence analysis.
Fri, October 8 2021: 20:45 UTC
Fri, October 8 2021: 22:00 UTC
Private Land Claims—Complicated? Yes, but worth it!
Fri, October 8 2021: 22:00 UTC
When the United States acquired land that had been under the governance of foreign nations (Great Britain, France, Spain, and Mexico), the U.S. government agreed to grant title to landowners who could prove prior legal land rights from those foreign governments. This webinar shows how to access and use records…
When the United States acquired land that had been under the governance of foreign nations (Great Britain, France, Spain, and Mexico), the U.S. government agreed to grant title to landowners who could prove prior legal land rights from those foreign governments. This webinar shows how to access and use records…
Fri, October 8 2021: 22:00 UTC
Wed, October 20 2021: 0:00 UTC
My 20 Year Mystery – Finding family origins with Y-DNA
Wed, October 20 2021: 0:00 UTC
Beginner genealogists often research their surname origins first, and get stuck at a certain point. The skills needed to surmount these early brick walls come in time, with study and practice, and the increasing availability of DNA and online resources. In this webinar, Shellee describes her brick wall ancestor, Samuel...
Beginner genealogists often research their surname origins first, and get stuck at a certain point. The skills needed to surmount these early brick walls come in time, with study and practice, and the increasing availability of DNA and online resources. In this webinar, Shellee describes her brick wall ancestor, Samuel...
Wed, October 20 2021: 0:00 UTC
Wed, November 17 2021: 1:00 UTC
Planning Research
Wed, November 17 2021: 1:00 UTC
Genealogical proof requires the conduct of reasonably exhaustive research. The thorough research required by the Genealogical Proof Standard should not be undertaken in a haphazard manner. This webinar provides useful tips on developing an effective research plan, including the importance of crafting a focused research question and prioritizing potentially relevant…
Genealogical proof requires the conduct of reasonably exhaustive research. The thorough research required by the Genealogical Proof Standard should not be undertaken in a haphazard manner. This webinar provides useful tips on developing an effective research plan, including the importance of crafting a focused research question and prioritizing potentially relevant…
Wed, November 17 2021: 1:00 UTC