On October 8, 2021, genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills retired, giving her last presentation, a webinar hosted by Legacy Webinars as part of the 2021 Joy Reisinger Memorial Lecture Series sponsored by the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG). A much-needed discussion about context, I’m sure listeners learned lessons to incorporate into their research, many of which can be game-changers to their genealogy.
Context A Powerful Tool for Problem Solving by Elizabeth Shown Mills
(free through 10/31/2021)
Elizabeth's 50-year career has touched so many, and it got me thinking about some of the educational opportunities available to genealogists that continue even in her retirement. I'm a big fan of the written word, and this brief bibliography provides some links and ideas for continuing education. This bibliography doesn't include everything, it excludes works such as her QuickSheets (laminated guides) and her National Genealogical Society Quarterly articles. However, these suggestions will help you start a personal genealogical study.
When I started my genealogy journey I did so by reading. I read stacks upon stacks of genealogy books. I’m of the belief that reading is a must in order to conduct thorough, exhaustive, and knowledgeable genealogical research. Elizabeth Shown Mills has had a prolific writing career, and some of her works are well known and often referred to. Below are some of my favorites and those that I refer to most frequently, listed in chronological order.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. “Ethnicity and the Southern Genealogist Myths and Misconceptions, Resources and Opportunities.” Robert M. Taylor Jr. and Ralph J. Crandall, eds. Generations and Change: Genealogical Perspectives in Social History. Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1986.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown, ed. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Isle of Canes (Provo: Ancestry, 2004).
Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. 3d ed., rev. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2017.
Mills, Elizabeth Shown, ed. Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2018.
To view a more comprehensive bibliography of her work, consult the Book web page on the Historic Pathways website.
I love Elizabeth Shown Mills’ websites. Her Evidence Explained website has a series of QuickLessons that are a must for serious genealogists. These QuickLessons explain concepts like layered citations and the Evidence Analysis Process Map. I refer genealogy students to these lessons often.
Her Historical Pathways website has over 70 articles that you can study to learn more about the genealogical research process. The website’s homepage explains that it is “A portfolio of research drawing forgotten women, yeoman farmers, and the enslaved out from the shadows of history.”
That’s Just the Beginning
I hope that gives you some ideas for books to add to your personal library and web pages to bookmark as you continue your genealogical education. The Legacy Webinars website
includes three webinars from Elizabeth Shown Mills, including the latest on Context. See her Legacy Webinars speaker page to watch her webinars:
- Reasonably Exhaustive Research: The First Criteria for Genealogical Proof
- FAN + GPS + DNA: The Problem-Solver's Great Trifecta.
Whether you enjoy listening to her presentations or reading her writings, Elizabeth’s long career provides an opportunity to focus on studying the works she has created that can make us better researchers.
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.