Monday, August 08, 2016

Bookshelf: Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace

During today's Mondays with Myrt hangout we led off with an introduction to the revival of a new feature at, namely book reviews. During the first 8 minutes of the hangout, we discussed Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (EE) and toured the publisher's website

Our gal in Wales, Hilary Gadsby says EE has made it across the pond. Others mentioned having the e-book or Kindle version. All who have the book keep it close at hand. EE-3rd edition sits next to my right-hand monitor, that's just how frequently I reach for this book. Evidence Explained is definitely the #1 essential title for every genealogist's bookshelf.

Elizabeth Shown Mills is considered the foremost authority on citations for family historians. She's also well-regarded for her Advanced Methodology Course at the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research. I value the gold star affixed to my gov-docs homework in this course, received the final year before ESM retired from teaching at Samford. National genealogy conference attendees are fortunate to squeeze into the ballrooms whenever ESM shares a case study to illustrate sound research principles. Genealogists learn from the standard bearers and fortunately, EMS shares her knowledge in understandable terms.

In the forward, ESM explains it is essential for readers of our compiled family histories:
"to know not only where to go to find our source but, equally important, the nature of the source so that the evidence can be better interpreted and the accuracy of our conclusions can be appraised."

The critical factor oft overlooked is the nature of the source. For instance, was the informant biased or was the document we are looking at created by someone who is acting in the normal course of his duties, such as a county clerk or a parish priest?

Its not often four 90+ minute hangout sessions are used to describe an author's work, but that's exactly what we offer in our What Does SHE Say? Study Group series embedded below. Our task? To take principles presented by the author, and apply them to our own research. Homework was submitted in advance, so as to not infringe on copyright. All felt the research methods and citation samples ESM provided in EE have improved the success rate in overcoming research challenges. Describing the nature of the sources we are consulting makes it obvious when we need to expand our studies, look at alternate record sets, better reconcile conflicting evidence and write convincing proof statements.
What Does SHE Say? Study Group
Discussing Chapter 1 and 2 of Elizabeth Shown Mills'
Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis and Fundamentals of Citations

From the publisher:
"Like the previous editions of Evidence Explained, the third edition explains citation principles for both traditional and nontraditional sources; includes more than 1,000 citation models for virtually every source type; and shows readers where to go to find their sources and how to describe and evaluate them. It contains many new citation models, updates to websites, and descriptions and evaluations of numerous contemporary materials not included in earlier editions."

HERE's the link to order Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace direct from the publisher.

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