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Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA has been recognized as "the genealogist who has had the greatest impact on American genealogy in the post-Roots era." Among her many notable accomplishments, she edited the National Genealogical Society Quarterly for 16 years.

Mills pioneered research methodology classes for genealogy courses. Her Advanced Research Methodology track, launched in 1986 at Samford's Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research, became the standard approach used by many genealogical instructors. Rather than simply exposing students to sources and explaining where to find them, Mills began to teach students "how to use those records to wring every clue from them and to piece together bits and shards of evidence that, by themselves, mean nothing at all; yet, together, they resolve the toughest stalemate."[1]

In her instruction, Mills stresses the importance of the Genealogical Proof Standard. She has sought to establish conventions for citing genealogical sources. She has researched and published extensively about people on the margins of American society including slaves, women, free blacks, Indians, mixed-race settlers, and gypsies.

Mills has explored the oft-strained relationship between historians and genealogists in the United States. By raising standards in the genealogical community, she has helped professional genealogists gain respect in historical circles.

She points out the significance of not only searching records for an ancestor's surname, but also paying attention to documents about the ancestor's "FAN Club" (Friends, Associates, Neighbors), thereby broadening the scope of research beyond an individual to the community and nation where he or she lived. Learning more about an ancestor's FAN Club is a great way to discover new information about your direct ancestry, as these people are often listed together in deeds, wills, court cases, road orders, etc., and help you build a stronger case about relationships in your own family.

She has edited colonial records from Louisiana and Mississippi created during the periods of French and Spanish rule, including Natchitoches Colonials, which draws together colonial censuses, military records, and tax lists found in diverse American, Cuban, Spanish, and French archives to reconstruct a clearer picture of eighteenth-century frontier settlers.

A partial resume includes:

  • Editor, National Genealogical Society Quarterly (16 years)
  • President, The American Society of Genealogists
  • President, Board for Certification of Genealogists
  • Faculty, Samford University Library Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research
  • Faculty, National Institute on Genealogical Research

In 2011, Elizabeth Shown Mills launched an academic website Historic Pathways that houses digitized versions of articles she has published. The site broadcasts her fascinating and important work to a worldwide audience.

Contents

Publications

Best-sellers

  • Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. FHL Book 929.1 P942m. (with Donn Devine, James L. Hansen, and Helen F.M. Leary)

Articles

  • "Academia vs. Genealogy: Prospects for Reconciliation and Progress," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 71 (1983):99-106. Digital versions at Historic Pathways; National Genealogical Society website ($); FHL Book 973 B2ng v. 71 (1983)..
  • “A Case Study in Family Reconstruction within a ‘Burned County’.” Genealogy [Indiana Historical Society], Vol. 78 (July 1983): 1–10; reprinted from “Anderson of Buckingham: A Case Study in Family Reconstruction within a ‘Burned County,’ Part 1: Family of William and Mary (Polly) C. Anderson,” The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 27 (January–March 1983), 3–19. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed: 29 December 2011.
  • "Analyzing and Reviewing Published Sources," OnBoard, Vol. 3 (May 1997):16. Digital version at BCG website.
  • "Analyzing Deeds for Useful Clues," OnBoard, Vol. 1 (Jan. 1995):8. Digital version at BCG website.
  • "Analyzing Wills for Useful Clues," OnBoard, Vol. 1 (May 1995):16. Digital version at BCG website.
  • “Anderson of Buckingham: A Case Study in Family Reconstruction within a ‘Burned County,’ Part 2: Parental Family of William Anderson (1788–1852),” The Virginia Genealogist, Vol. 30 (July–September 1986): 174–87, and (October–December 1986): 263–73. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "Applying the Preponderance-of-the-Evidence Principle to a Southern Frontier Problem: William Medders of Alabama," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 82 (1994):32-49. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "Assimilation? Or Marginalization and Discrimination? Romani Settlers of the Colonial Gulf (Christophe Clan).” Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. 2011.
  • “Bridging the Historic Divide: Family History and ‘Academic’ History.” History and Genealogy: Why Not Both? Papers from the Midwestern Roots Conference. Indiana University Department of History. Indiana Magazine of History: Online Resources. PDF. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • "Censuses - Often-Overlooked Basics," OnBoard, Vol. 4 (Jan. 1998):8. Digital version at BCG website.
  • “Census Tick Marks and Codes—Revisited,” Ancestry Daily News, 20 December 2004. Archived at Ancestry.com, Learning Center. Accessed at Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Census Tick Marks and Codes—Revisited Yet Again!” Ancestry Daily News, 4 January 2005. Archived at Ancestry.com, Learning Center. Accessed 29 December 2011 at Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways.
  • "Citing Your Sources," OnBoard, Vol. 1 (Sep. 1995):24. Digital version at BCG website.
  • “Deliberate Fraud and Mangled Evidence: The Search for the Fictional Family of Anne Marie Philippe of Natchitoches, Louisiana,” The American Genealogist, Vol. 72 (July–October 1997): 353–68. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Documenting a Slave’s Birth, Parentage, and Origins (Marie Thérèse Coincoin, 1742–1816): A Test of Oral History,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 96 (December 2008): 245–66. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “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. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • "The Genealogist's Assessment of Alex Haley's Roots," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 72 (1984):35-49. Digital version at Historic Pathways. (with Gary B. Mills)
  • “Genealogy in the Information Age: History’s New Frontier?” NGS Centennial: A Special Issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 91 (December 2003): 260–77. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • "Good Genealogical Writing," OnBoard, Vol. 4 (Jan. 1998):16. Digital version at BCG website.
  • "Guidelines for Responsible Editing in Genealogy," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 84 (1996):48-49. (with Gary B. Mills, Jane Fletcher Fiske, David L. Greene, Robert Charles Anderson, Henry B. Hoff, Harry Macy Jr., and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking)
  • “How Do I Keep My Hats Straight? (And Other Pithy Questions Raised by Professional Genealogists),” Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly, Vol. 19 (June 2004): 55–60. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Identifying Jean Baptiste Derbanne of Louisiana’s Natchitoches Militia, 1780–82: Participant in the Gálvez Campaigns of the American Revolutionary War Era,” The American Genealogist, Vol. 68 (January 1993): 33–45. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "In Search for 'Mr. Ball': An Exercise in Finding Fathers," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 80 (1992):115-133. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011. (with Sharon Sholars Brown)
  • “Interpreting the Tick Marks on Federal Censuses,” Ancestry Daily News, 11 March 2004. Archived at Ancestry.com, Learning Center. Accessed at Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • Isle of Canes and Issues of Conscience: Master-Slave Sexual Dynamics and Slaveholding by Free People of Color.” Between Two Worlds: A Special Issue of The Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South, Vol. 43 (Winter 2006): 158–75. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • “Louise Marguerite: St. Denis’ Other Daughter,” Southern Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of the South, Vol. 16 (Fall 1977): 321–28. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Mézières, Trichel, Grappe: A Study of Tri-Caste Lineages in the Old South,” The Genealogist, Vol. 6 (Spring 1985): 3–84. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Missionaries Compromised: Early Evangelization of Slaves and Free People of Color in North Louisiana.” Glenn R. Conrad, ed. Cross, Crozier, and Crucible: A Volume Celebrating the Bicentennial of a Catholic Diocese in Louisiana. Lafayette, La.: Center for Louisiana Studies, 1993. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011. (with Gary B. Mills)
  • “Mother, Thy Name Is Mystery! Finding the Slave Who Bore Philomene Daurat,” Reconstructing Female Lives: A Special Issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 88 (September 2000): 201–24. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011. (with Rachal Mills Lennon)
  • “Parallel Lives: Philippe de la Renaudière and Philippe (de) Renault, Directors of the Mines, Company of the Indies,” The Natchitoches Genealogist, Vol. 22 (April 1998): 3–18. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "Producing Quality Research Notes," OnBoard, Vol. 3 (Jan. 1997):8. Digital version at BCG website.
  • “Quintanilla’s Crusade, 1775–1803: ‘Moral Reform’ and Its Consequences on the Natchitoches Frontier.” Louisiana History 42 (Summer 2001): 277–302. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • “Roots and the New ‘Faction’: A Legitimate Tool for Clio?” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 1 (January 1981): 5–26. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011. (with Gary B. Mills)
  • “Roundabout Research: Pursuing Collateral Lines to Prove Parentage of a Direct Ancestor—Samuel Hanson of Frontier Georgia,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 91 (March 2003): 19–30. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "The Search for Margaret Ball: Building Steps Over a Brick-Wall Research Problem," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 77 (1989):43-65. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • "Slaves and Masters: The Louisiana Metoyers," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 70 (1982):163-189. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011. Digital version at National Genealogical Society website ($); FHL Book 973 B2ng v. 70 (1982). (with Gary B. Mills)
  • “Social and Family Patterns on the Colonial Louisiana Frontier,” Sociological Spectrum 2 (1982): 233–48. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • "Spanish Records: Locating Anglo and Latin Ancestry in the Colonial Southwest," National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 73 (1985):243-261.
  • "Transcribing Source Materials," OnBoard, Vol. 2 (Jan. 1996):8. Digital version at BCG website.
  • “Unravelling Balls of Yarn: Lessons in the Use of a Skeptical Eye (As Taught by William Bartholomew Ball and William F. Ball, Esq.),” Genealogical Journal, Vol. 19 (1991): 1–21. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 29 December 2011.
  • “Which Marie Louise Is ‘Mariotte’? Sorting Slaves with Common Names,” National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 94 (September 2006): 183–204. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.
  • “Working with Historical Evidence: Genealogical Principles and Standards,” Evidence: A Special Issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 87 (September 1999): 165–84. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 November 2011.

Theses

  • “Family and Social Patterns of the Colonial Louisiana Frontier: A Quantitative Analysis, 1714–1803.” New College Honors Thesis, University of Alabama, 1981. x, 231 pp. Digital image. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Historic Pathways. Accessed 27 December 2011.

Books

  • Evidence!: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1997. FHL Book 929.1 M625e.
  • Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2009. FHL Book 929.1 M625ee 2009. Facebook page. Website and  discussion forum.
  • Natchitoches Colonials: Censuses, Military Rolls and Tax Lists, 1722–1803. Chicago: Adams Press, 1981.
  • Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. FHL Book 929.1 P942m. (with Donn Devine, James L. Hansen, and Helen F.M. Leary)

Videos

The following videos are available in the members' section of the National Genealogical Society website:

  • Genealogy Is History, Up Close and Personal
  • The Importance of NGS (free)
  • Family Traditions: My Choctaw Princess
  • We Are All Cousins - also available at YouTube
  • The Search

Websites

References

  1. Email communication, Elizabeth Shown Mills to Nathan W. Murphy, 27 December 2011.


 

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  • This page was last modified on 7 July 2012, at 18:53.
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