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Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace [Hardcover]

by Elizabeth Shown Mills
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 30, 2007 0806317817 978-0806317816
Evidence Explained is the definitive guide to the citation and analysis of historical sources. It begins with a simple question: Why do we invest so much of our energy into the citation of sources? Followed by the intriguing answer: Because all sources are not created equal. As a citation guide, Evidence Explained is built on this simple question and answer. According to the author, there are no historical resources we can trust at face value. Records simply offer evidence, and their assertions may or may not be true. To decide what actually happened, we must understand those records. To analyze that evidence and judge what to believe, we also need particular facts about those records. Thus, Evidence Explained has two principal uses: it provides citation models for most historical sources especially original materials not covered by classic citation guides such as The Chicago Manual of Style. Beyond that it can help us understand each type of record and identify each in such detail that we and our readers will know not only where to go to find our source, but, equally important, the nature of that source so that the evidence can be better interpreted and the accuracy of our conclusions properly appraised. Highlights Covers all contemporary and electronic sources not discussed in traditional style manuals, including digital, audio, and video sources Explains citation principals and includes more than 1,000 citation models for virtually every source type Shows readers where to go to find their sources and how to describe them and evaluate them Teaches readers to separate facts from assertions and theory from proof in the evaluation of evidence. Most importantly, Evidence Explained discusses source citations for every known class of records, including microfilm and microfiche, and records created by the new digital media: Websites Blogs Digital books and journals DVDs CDs Audio files Podcasts Everyone Needs This Book -Carry it around and consult it for the correct citation of any source you come across -Keep it constantly at your side to help you identify sources -Use it to evaluate digital and Internet sources -Make it your standard for citing sources and evaluating evidence in your day-to-day research

Editorial Reviews


"This remarkably useful book is the definitive guide for how to cite every conceivable kind of source that a historian might use, from traditional archival materials to digital media to the most arcane sources imaginable. This volume will be indispensable to every serious scholar, writer, and editor." --John Boles, Editor, JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY

About the Author

Elizabeth Shown Mills is a historical writer with decades of research experience in public and private records of many Western nations. Published widely in academic and popular presses, Mills edited a national-level scholarly journal for sixteen years, taught for thirteen years at a National Archives-based institute on archival records and, for twenty years, has headed a university-based program in advanced research methodology. Mills knows records, loves records, and regularly shares her expertise in them with live and media audiences across three continents.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 885 pages
  • Publisher: Genealogical Pub Co (June 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0806317817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0806317816
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,160,945 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Elizabeth Shown Mills is an internationally acclaimed historical researcher and writer who has spent her life studying American culture and the relationships between people--emotional as well as genetic. Featured on BBC, CNN, PBS, and other networks in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, she has guest-blogged for the NEW YORK TIMES and has been widely cited as "the genealogist who has had the most influence in the post-Roots era."

Her 13 prize-winning books range from reference works such as "Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace" (Library Journal 2007 Best Reference) to the historical novel, "Isle of Canes," which chronicles a family of freed slaves across four generations, and is drawn from Mills's own research in the archives of six nations.

Her latest work is the greatly enlarged, revised edition of the Louisiana State University Press classic, THE FORGOTTEN PEOPLE: CANE RIVER'S CREOLES OF COLOR.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good addition to your reference library December 5, 2007
By Adele
This book fulfills a long needed addition to Mills' 1997 effort Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian. Genealogy, as a discipline, has practioners that range from the casual gedcom collector to professional and academic researchers. For the last several decades, there has been a strong movement toward standards in genealogical research, in an effort to gain credibility on par with historians and other social sciences. At 816 pages (884 total pages), reading it from cover to cover is a bit like reading a dictionary, which few of us rarely do.

Judging from the buzz on various mailing lists before the book was released, you might expect that Mills was providing merely a reference manual or citation style manual for genealogists. However, the title, Evidence Explained, hints at more. Throughout the text, Mills uses the term "historian" over the use of the term, "genealogist." This shift in terminology is perhaps in keeping with the direction that the discipline is moving. Additionally, Mills devoted the first chapter to the subject of evaluating sources and evidence contained within them, a subject that still causes confusion for many experienced family historians (i.e., genealogists).

For those of us who would rather read a novel than a style manual, I recommend reading the first two chapters in their entireity. Both chapters cover general concepts that are prominent in genealogical research and citation writing. The remaining twelve chapters deal with the various types of historical records or artifacts encountered while researching family history. Starting with Chapter 3, Mills provides the historian with a section, entitled "QuickCheck Models.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidence or Evidence Explained December 8, 2007
I was given the option to buy Evidence or Evidence Explained for a class I was taking. To save costs, I started with Evidence, because it was much cheaper. As the weeks turned into months, I found it lacking in citation examples I needed. I was constantly asking for help and having to wait for an answer. I finally went ahead and bought Evidence Explained and when I got it was instantly satisfied. There are examples of everything I needed for my research, including every situation I ran into. I only wish I would have bought it first. It has saved me hours of research just to make a proper citation. It is easy to locate examples for all your needs.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I admit it -- when a new book is announced by Elizabeth Mills, I immediately put in an advance order, without even reading any reviews. I've heard her speak at dozens of conferences and seminars, local and national, and I've read (I think) all of her published articles. My regard for her professional expertise is such that anything she cares to say, I want to hear.

Taken by the main title alone, and by the announced length of the book, I was hoping for a grand collection of the author's thoughts on the ferreting out of sources, the evaluation of evidence gleaned from them, and the knitting of that evidence into a provable case. Sort of a distillation of her forty-plus years of accumulated wisdom in an area of family research in she is arguably the leading expert. The subtitle, though, is more accurate. Only twenty-two pages at the beginning address the subject of evidence and what to do with it.

The bulk of the volume is given over to a series of topical chapters of various types of source materials -- published books and articles, unpublished manuscripts, business and institutional records, census, church, and cemetery records, local and state records produced by courts and clerks, national governmental records, and laws and court cases. Another sizable section covers handwritten and electronic correspondence, records and other materials (often ephemeral) found on the Internet, and broadcast or televised source material. Each chapter and section is preceded by a "QuickCheck" list of concise models and examples of the citation formats under discussion. (Those for electronic sources expand on Mills's "QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources," a four-page laminated ready-reference tool also published by Genealogical Publishing (revised edition, 2007).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genresearcher82 November 24, 2007
Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace
This book is certainly the best source currently available to guide the genealogy researcher in documenting sources. I have been faithfully using the author's EVIDENCE! CITATION AND ANALYSIS FOR THE FAMILY HISTORIAN and QUICKSHEET CITING ONLINE HISTORICAL RESOURCES. I was surprised to see this latest and most complete publication so soon. I have found this latest publication of tremendous assistance in documenting county court records, all forms of online records, etc. If this latest book does not cover the precise source you are attempting to document, there are so many closely related sources covered that it greatly simplifies creating your own citation to meet almost all unique forms you encounter.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Elizabeth Mills is a historical writer with decades of research experience in public and private records, so her EVIDENCE EXPLAINED: CITING HISTORY SOURCES FROM ARTIFACTS TO CYBERSPACE discusses the various forms taken by old records, how they are translated into modern technological realms from websites to DVDs, and how they are stored and accessed. While such records and source materials offer evidence of a type - they may not be true: researchers thus need to 'consider the source' of the digital information they are relying upon, and EVIDENCE EXPLAINS offers an in-depth survey of these details and methods for evaluating record credibility and the sources of evidence conflicts. Both genealogical collections and college-level libraries strong in either library science or research need this survey.

Diane C. Donovan
California Bookwatch
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Professional
Elizabeth Shown Mills is a true professional. She does a great job of explaining how to present Evidence genealogically. Genealogists turn to her for important facts and advice.
Published 2 months ago by Jean T. Zungola
4.0 out of 5 stars Dense workhorse
This is an excellent guide to the more advanced theories and concepts of finding, handling and using evidentiary materials. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Metalsmith
5.0 out of 5 stars Another essential book for genealogists
Elizabeth Shown Mills is the guru of citations. It is not enough to keep this book at your side while you're writing genealogical reports. It needs to be memorized!
Published 11 months ago by Honey Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to...
The product delivery was good. The product was what was advertised. The price for the product was good. No problems or issues.
Published 16 months ago by JT
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource that Should be Available in Kindle
This is an excellent reference for family historians wishing to learn how source materials and evidence should be wighed, assessed and interpreted, as well as providing advice on... Read more
Published 17 months ago by Jeremy Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars A Needful Book!
This book is indispensable to any genealogist who needs to write citations, correctly, which, really, is ALL genealogists! Read more
Published 24 months ago by A. P. Slatin
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Have for the serious family researcher
This is a "Must Have" in your library if you are a serious family researcher. Gives proper citation for all manner of sources. Read more
Published on May 7, 2011 by NATF
5.0 out of 5 stars Backup Your Research - Give Evidence
I love doing genealogical research. However I have routinely been uncertain how to cite my sources, especially online research. This book is a great help. Read more
Published on February 11, 2011 by George
4.0 out of 5 stars great information but dont be tired reading it
I really enjoyed the information, but it won't make a best sellers list any time soon. But invaluable information for anyone who wants to learn to docuement your genealogy... Read more
Published on November 2, 2009 by outdoorgirl84401
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Tool For History and Genealogical Research
Almost every scientific and academic field of study has a select few non-negotiable resources that set the standard for competence and excellence in its field. Read more
Published on August 30, 2009 by Smick
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