NGS 2020 Family Conference Speaker Spotlight

March 5th, 2020 by Valerie Elkins

NGS 2020 is Happy to Welcome Back Elizabeth Shown Mills

The National Genealogical Society (NGS), 2020 Family History Conference‘s program includes 35 new speakers to this NGS conference, as well as many veterans. NGS is happy to welcome back Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA, a pioneer in problem-solving methodology, past editor of NGSQ, and the author-editor of the books that should be on every genealogist’s bookshelves, Evidence Explained and Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards. Elizabeth has written 14 other books, including the historical novel Isle of Canes.

The 2020 NGS Family History Conference will be held in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 20-23. Early-bird registration ends March 17, 2020.

Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA

Elizabeth Shown Mills is presenting 3 lectures:

Elusive Ancestors: Never ‘Too Poor to Trace’! Describing this class, Elizabeth writes, “Everyone has ancestors who seem to mysteriously appear and then spontaneously combust—existing nowhere except one census or a family Bible entry. Deeds, marriage bonds, tax rolls, will books, and other common records by which we trace people yield nothing but dead ends for these ancestors. “Too poor to trace!” is the common conclusion. It’s also usually wrong. Many neglected sources include propertyless men, women, and children. Targeted strategies can be used to develop clues, even from records that do not specifically name our ancestors. This session approaches the topic in three ways:

By the time this session ends, we promise, you’ll never again use the term “too poor to trace”!”

Using Tax Rolls: Getting Our Money’s Worth from the Taxes Our Ancestors Paid is the second presentation offered by ESM, (as she is affectionally known in the genealogy world). Elizabeth describes this lecture: “In 1965, as editor of the Genealogical Magazine of New Jersey, the late Dr. Kenn Stryker-Rodda extracted and published a series of New Jersey tax rolls. He prefaced his series with this remark: To have preserved the tabular arrangement of the original would have been pedantic. … Moreover, valuations and specific taxes are more the concern of the economist than the genealogist.

1965. That was 55 years ago. How has genealogy’s use of tax rolls changed across those years? This session walks attendees through 15 strategies, demonstrating how a more-sophisticated use of tax records will help the enterprising genealogist

Turning Witnesses into Evidence is the final presentation offered by Mills. She offers this description of the class, “Witnesses are not afterthoughts tacked onto the end of documents. Although they usually served a perfunctory role for our ancestors, they now serve us as significant informants—once we learn how to use those names to develop evidence. This session approaches the topic in two ways: theory and application. 

In the first quarter-hour, we will explore five areas:

After our groundwork, we will walk you through a challenging case study, applying the theoretical principles we’ve learned. Our subject is an unmarried freedwoman, never named in any census, who died in 1817 leaving behind no record of her death. Our goal is to answer two questions that have eluded both historians and genealogists:

As you will see, witnesses to other events in her life provide clues we can turn into evidence.”

NGS Family History Conferences offer genealogical education from outstanding speakers like Elizabeth, come join us!

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