Context: A Powerful Tool for Problem Solving (a 2021 Reisinger Lecture)

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL
Oct 8, 2021
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2m 11s
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Speaker's Introduction
1m 04s
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11m 32s
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Internal Context
17m 33s
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External Context
23m 28s
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1m 34s
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Questions / answers
6m 50s

About this webinar

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.

About the speaker

About the speaker

Across a long career, Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FUGA, FNGS, has been an innovator of research methods and strategies. Published widely by academic and popular presses, she edited a national-level scholarly journal for 16 years, taught
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  1. CM
    Cathy Meister
    7 months ago

    Very helpful. Thank you so much.

  2. PS
    Patricia Strot
    1 year ago

    Impressive webinar from a real-deal genealogist! Thank you for sharing your method and insights ESM!

  3. SC
    Stacy Cole
    2 years ago

    I learned so much from this.

  4. HS
    Helen Schenkelaars
    3 years ago

    So sad to be losing such a genealogy icon, but thank you Elizabeth for all you have done to educate fledgling genealogists. You will be missed. Enjoy yourwell-earned retirement!

  5. HS
    Helen Schenkelaars
    3 years ago

    Just brilliant! Thank you!
    I’d love to see lectures like this where British or Irish records are being used as examples too – whilst this is obviously methodology that can be applied anywhere, it would still be good to get clues as to what else might provide context across the pond.

  6. HM
    Heather McLeland-Wieser
    3 years ago

    As always Elizabeth is amazing. I’ve been her student in institutes, conference and webinars for more than 30 years. She raised me genealogically!

  7. SB
    Shelley Bishop
    3 years ago

    Thank you, Elizabeth, for your countless contributions to the field of genealogy. Your teachings and legacy will continue to inspire all of us. Wishing you all the best in the years to come!

  8. BL
    Barbara Leamer
    3 years ago

    Wonderful reminder of what good genealogists must do. I loved your lecture in using DNA to figure out the structure and relationships of families in (I think) Alabama and Georgia.


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