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No, no, Nanette! What negative evidence is . . . and isn't by Judy G. Russell, JD, CG, CGL - Digital Download

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Negative evidence is the hardest type of evidence to understand or use in genealogical research. By definition, a “type of evidence arising from an absence of a situation or information in extant records where that information might be expected,” it is, as the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes told us in the short story “Silver Blaze,” the “curious incident . . . in the night-time”—the thing we would expect to see or hear but that just isn't there. Learn more about what negative evidence is—and what it isn't—and how to use it.

This was presented to a live webinar audience on December 20, 2016. 1 hour 19 minutes, plus 6 pages of handouts.

The recording is also included as part of the monthly or annual membership.

Viewers' comments:
  • Absolutely wonderful! It is sometimes hard to find intermediate to advanced level workshops that don't just repeat the same things, and this one did a fantastic job of presenting an "old" topic in a new way with new examples.
  • Always interesting. Have a number of situations where negative research was used.
  • Any presentation by Judy Russell is EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!
  • Anything by Judy Russell is worthwhile, but this webinar explained negative evidence very succinctly and clearly.
  • Appreciate stories to show points.
  • Appreciated the examples. Judy is incredibly clear about the points she is making in regards to evidence.
  • As always, Judy can bring a complex issue down to our level of understanding...
  • As always, Judy Russell is a wonderful lecturer.
  • As I listened I was applying comments to my research situations.
  • As usual, Judy Russell is very clear in defining and then illustrating what can be a difficult concept. Loved the examples.
  • As usual, Judy's presentation is organized, logical, educational and entertaining. She makes her illustrations come to life.
  • Both informative and entertaining. Judy Russell is always a wonderful speaker from whom I always learn a lot.
  • Brilliant as always, Judy! So grateful for these methodology lectures that help us to understand some of the subtle (and not so subtle) differences in terminology and how to be better researchers. :)
  • Can't say enough about Judy! So entertaining and knowledgeable! Just love her!
  • Case studies are so very helpful! I finally understand the use of Negative Evidence after an exhaustive search. I've been conflating it with 'negative search' Judy is always so helpful. Clean, clear, and by goodness, we're going to learn the 5 steps of the Genealogic Proof Standard!! :) Cheers.
  • Excellent
  • excellent - clear, concise and important.. Thank you.
  • Excellent information about the different types of evidence and in particular negative evidence.
  • Excellent speaker - really appreciated the examples - good to know that the absence of evidence doesn't always mean a brick wall!
  • Excellent webinar and well taught.
  • EXCELLENT! Judy Russell is so knowledgable and presents her case studies so clearly. A pleasure to listen to! Thank you!
  • Excellent!!! Really clarified what negative evidence is. And finally someone made that dang Sherlock Holmes reference applicable in a practical fashion. Always great to hear what Judy has to say!!!
  • Excellent, as always, Judy. Thank you BCG & Legacy.
  • Fabulous, as always! Thank you, Judy, for making this lively and understandable.
  • Great examples using case studies to help us to understand what negative evidence is and is not.
  • I always enjoy Judy's presentations- watched this one as a review, but still ended up with a clearer sense of what negative evidence is and how to use it than I had before.
  • I always love listening to Judy, she is a great story teller and she challenges me to dig deeper when I research.
  • I am glad that the replay is available for a week so I can go over the concepts that haven't quite penetrated my brain yet!
  • I am still a novice and am trying to grasp everything I can in order to submit an excellent portfolio. I am still a little confused about negative evidence, but I feel I learned a few things this evening. I'm looking forward to reading some of the items in the resource section to help me comprehend it a little better.
  • I got the illustration of the dogs in my head now :) And why didn't the dog bark?
  • Interesting. Like the other listener, I found out I had been using negative evidence without knowing it. Glad to have it validated as a means to answering research questions.
  • It's easy to see why Judy is a CGL -- her lectures are well-paced, clear, well-organized, entertaining, and are supported with beautifully-designed handouts. Her slides are easy to read and her slide decks are edited to showcase the basic concepts in each lecture. This is why her webinars are a must-watch for me.
  • Judy always gives me something to think about - but now I am eager to tackle some of those ellusive ancestors in a new way.
  • Judy gave another great webinar explaining why we should always include all types of evidence in our research in an entertaining way.
  • Judy is excellent at using examples to explain what she's talking about. I think I too will be putting up pictures of a dog house and a couple dogs! Thank you so much for this very informative webinar.
  • Judy Russell is my absolutely favorite speaker. Negative evidence is the hardest concept for me and she made it crystal clear. Thanks!
  • Love the analogy with the dog in the night time. That's going to be a big help in figuring out if I have negative evidence or just a negative search!
  • One of the best webinars I have viewed yet. Definitely will help me break several brick walls down. Thank you, Thank you.
  • Queen Judy is always a pure delight! Love her analogies, her pace, her examples, etc. She is the best! Thank you!
  • She's a master at making complicated situations clear. Love her blogs and lectures, always!
  • The information presented in the webinar is extremely helpful in explaining negative evidence and the use of it in developing proof arguments.
  • This webinar by Judy Russell was the clearest presentation on negative evidence I have ever seen.
  • very knowledgeable, good examples and easy to follow presentation. technology worked very well. helped to put structure on the use of negative evidence, beyond the normal "common sense".
  • wonderfully presented. I truly got a great understanding of negative evidence vs. negative searches and how to use in research.
About the author:
A genealogist with a law degree, Judy G. Russell is a lecturer, educator and writer who enjoys helping others understand a wide variety of genealogical issues, including the interplay between genealogy and the law. She has a bachelor's degree in political science and journalism from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and a law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Newark, and holds Certified Genealogist and Certified Genealogical Lecturer credentials from the Board for Certification of Genealogists where she serves as a member of the Board of Trustees. She has worked as a newspaper reporter, trade association writer, legal investigator, defense attorney, federal prosecutor, law editor and, until recently Judy was an adjunct member of the faculty at Rutgers Law School. Judy is a Colorado native with roots deep in the American south on her mother's side and entirely in Germany on her father's side. Visit her website at

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