Sunday, August 09, 2015

Homework Questions for 14 Aug 2015 What Does SHE Say? Study Group

When discussing Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained [EE3] in this study group, our goal is to have
Panelists and community participants share specific, real-life scenarios as we consider assimilation of concepts in EE3 to improve research outcomes.
Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd edition (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2015). [Book available from the publisher at and in digital format from the author's website]

The author hereafter referred to as ESM.
The book hereafter referred to as EE3.

Focus Statement
“All things considered, our task as history researchers is to learn the sources, learn the methods, learn the standards and apply them all as carefully and diligently as possible.” (See EE3 - 1.2)



For Friday, 14 Aug 2015 - EE3 - Chapter 1 Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis
Please answer your choice of at least half of the following questions, being careful to include  one or two specific examples from your research. Homework may be submitted via a blog or Google Doc, with the link posted as a comment here.

  1. How does your genealogy management software assign “generic labels”? Have you been using this as a crutch?
  2. What technology, if any,  assists your analysis of each detail in a document?
  3. Describe your reaction when you first realized there may be no “explicit document” that answers your research question. Be specific.
  4. Does a source provide adequate proof?
  5. Describe a specific research scenario where the proof is a bit different from your original hypothesis by stating:
    1. Your original hypothesis
    2. The theory you developed
    3. Your process for assembling the evidence
  6. Has there ever been a time in your personal research where a question cannot be answered? Is this merely a brick wall, or are you totally stumped? Be specific.
  7. If your theory about an ancestor isn’t to be taken as fact, what words could be used to convey the distinction?
  8. We hear the words assertion, claims and facts batted about. Describe how ESM classifies them for history researchers.
  9. ESM spends much time in EE3 pages 18-19 discussing the difference between the legal definition of proof, and what family history scholars and professionals have espoused in the GPS. List the five conditions “a valid conclusion” must meet:
  10. ESM lists two types of written conclusions. Describe them and detail how these assist in reaching your research goals.
  11. Provide a specific example of assigning a level of confidence per ESM.
  12. Select one item from the following to describe how lack of understanding this phenomenon has impacted your research.
    1. Objectivity
    2. Presentism
    3. Quality vs. Quantity
    4. Technical Knowledge (Cousin Russ will re-share his draft registration scenario.)
  13. Interpret ESM’s rainbow and bread making metaphors.
  14. Describe two critical elements of a primary source and how time and second-hand knowledge may skew matters.
  15. What’s a printed primary source? Are these reliable?
  16. Does a compiled family history meet ESM’s criteria for a printed primary source?
  17. Describe why ESM suggests avoiding thought processes using legal terms like clear and convincing evidence.
  18. Be prepared to discuss the Research Process Map described in EE3, also found on ESM’s website here:

Friday, 14 Aug 2015
  • Noon Eastern US (New York)
  • 11am Central US (Chicago)
  • 10am Mountain US (Denver, Salt Lake City)
  • 9am Pacific US (Los Angeles)

If you need a time zone converter, here's one DearMYRTLE recommends:


This is where all may VIEW and post COMMENTS about each session. The post for each session will appear within the week prior to individual scheduled sessions here:

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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