#1 Genealogy Books
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~Introducing genealogy to beginners
~Searching your multicultural or "ethnic" roots (African, Native American, Japanese, etc)
~Using technology in research (internet/software/etc)
~Organization (keeping track of records and research)
~Becoming a professional-level genealogist
~Fictional work about family history / genealogy
This sounds heretical for a book lover, but I think I'd send a beginner to RootsWeb's Guide To Tracing Family Trees (www.Rootsweb.com) or another online guide.
I own very few actual genealogy books. Back in 1997 I did buy Cyndi Howell's (Cyndislist) Netting Your Ancestors. I was very new to the internet and it covered everything from how to join a mailing list to how to send an e-mail!
Advantages to the books:
-- Less likely to be tied to one particular commmercial provider (so they are less limnitng in the long run)
-- Provide answers to question people don't know to look for answers to
-- generally have more depth; they cover the beginnings but also work at getting people to the advanced beginner stage.
Genealogy 101, How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy, Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy , and Unpuzzling Your Past are all at least adequate.
I've also recommended the less common First Steps in Genealogy and Genesis of Your Genealogy which are very good introductory books.
I found a great list of the "Top 10" recommended genealogy books...
If you are looking for Non-fiction books I would recommend Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball and the sequel Sweet Hell Inside.
If adoption is what you are looking for the best book along those lines I have read is The Search for Anna Fisher by Florence Fisher.
If you have read any of these I would like to know how you liked them.
But really, the book I keep on me at all times? Cite Your Sources by Richard S Lackey. After all these years, I *still* get irritated at how little attention people pay to sourcing and how many times I hear them gripe 10 years into researching about how they wish they had done it from the start. Evidence by Elizabeth Mills is also a good book to own.
The other thing I tend to recommend to people that isn't on every "must have" list in the universe is to keep a few of those Grandma, Tell Me Your Memories sorts of journals around... I find them useless to actually give to grandparents to fill out, but *brilliant* for preparing for visiting time with elders... I tend to read through them before the visit to focus and prepare a list of trigger questions/conversations to have in visiting. Much more useful than a book about how to interview people.
I'm pretty organized but still found Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon Carmack a useful book to read.
My favorite non-reference reading? The Psychic Roots books by Henry Z Jones. I just never get tired of hearing people's research stories.
One of my favorite novels involving genealogy is Kingsblood Royal by Sinclair Lewis. The hero starts looking for his family tree, and discovers a Negro ancestor. Under the laws then existing, the smallest drop of "Negro blood" makes him and his children Negro. Should he try to keep it secret, for the sake of his employment, his wife & family, and their position in society? A gripping book about racism.
pdxwoman: Well, I think Evidence is the better/more comprehensive book, but I had Cite Your Sources for some time before I got a copy of it and I find it valuable to have both. Evidence is better to read cover to cover and is the clear choice for a professional genealogist. Cite Your Sources I find much more valuable as a practical reference book to carry with me when I'm researching at the library - It's less cluttered in content and smaller to haul around. And if I was recommending one or the other to a new amateur genealogist who was showing resistance to the idea of citing sources, I might start them out with Cite Your Sources - I know a few people who would be completely overwhelmed and confused by the look of Evidence and be scared off the whole thing. Anyone working at an advanced level, or who was not frightened off by the complexity of it, should definitely get Evidence.
I have to admit - I've ignored the advice/rules of *both* authors at times and have made up my own standards in a few instances. My concern is much more that I am able to identify (as specifically as possible) where each fact/document came from so I can retrace my steps, not so much a professional interest in genealogical proof. I've also had to cheat a little bit with database software over the years to keep a handle on the citations due to the software's limitations - all the information is there, but Mills and Lackey would have something to say about how important it is to attach citations properly when using a computer genealogy program. Now they are capable of the task - 15 years ago, you had to use band-aids and duct tape. I really should do some housecleaning.
This is a really good reminder to me that it's time to read *both* books from cover to cover again (it's been many years) and reevaluate my own practices. I'm just as sloppy as the next gal when it comes down to it. :-)
For fiction, there's a mystery series by Rett MacPherson featuring a genealogist called Torie O'Shea.
Does everyone else have all 16 accounted for?
Seajack, Which mystery do you recommend as a start?
I have all 16 - depending on how one defines "accounted for" that is! I'm definitely going to need some Psychic Roots-type help myself with my mother's mother's father's mother. Her husband was a seaman, she "eloped" to marry him, had their son, and was gone with T.B. shortly thereafter. No marriage record (no clue where one might be!), and no death record (NS wasn't recording them then); headstone gives years of birth and death only. Her son's birth certificate gives "London, England" as her birthplace, no age nor parents listed for her. Conflicting info that she may have been French; surname "Coombs" can go either way there it seems ...
What does "checkmark on the census territory" mean exactly?
Penguin -- thanks for those Jones book references. I wanna look into them, pronto!
Thanks. I'll look for Family Skeletons.
At least you have a name for your GGGM. My 2 missing ones are just "wife." :-((
The 1850 US census was the first to list anyone other than the head of household. Before that, they had categories --- males in different age groups, females in different age groups --- with a checkmark in the appropriate column for each other member of the household. So my ancestress was just a checkmark in an adult female column. :((( Birth certificates? Death certificates? No such things back then. Parish records? The names are horribly common in Ireland, and they never even bothered to say where in Ireland. The death would have been in NY, but the RC church, to the building of which that GGGF contributed the largest sum, won't let anyone look at records. :((
Same story with the other one, except that I can't even find her husband on a census before 1850, at which time he was a widower. Might have been a boarder before then. He is written up in one of those "local hotshot" biography books, but ghod forbid his wife should have a name.
Guess I'd better get the Psychic books!
The Sixteen GGGPs: I have 14. I'm clueless on my mom's father's maternal grandparents. It's as though my GGM sprung from the sea or something.
My library doesn't have the sequel, so it looks like I'll be ordering it via Inter-Library Loan.
Those books don't seem to be on LT. The touchstones go to novels by Nabokov & Sidney Sheldon. :-)
Can you tell us more about them? Where in England?
Hmmm. I wonder if finding the 16 may be a function of age, and of the length of generations in families. (A generation was more like 40+ years for mine.)
My lost 2 of 16 were born well before 1800, and swam over with husbands & children in the 1820s/1830s.
Reminds me of a line in a book I read, in which one of my remote cousins or cousins-in-law was complaining about "people who don't have great-grandparents" being given a say in public affairs. :-) But in knowing my great-grands, my family's knowledge was stretching back to the same period as was yours with the great-greats.
The average year of birth for your great-great-grandparents (your 16) was about 1840.
The average year of birth for my great-grandparents (my 8) was exactly 1840. (The spread runs from 1815 to 1861.)
The average for my great-greats appears to be about 1810. Not many certificates to be found for those people! The 2 missing women were both born in the 18th century, somewhere in Ireland, and died before 1850.
Another line includes a 4th GGrandfather who was 73 when the last of his 24 was born.
Speaking of elderly mothers, has everyone got at least one case in which parents raised the child of an unmarried daughter and claimed that the child was theirs?
Seajack, thanks for mentioning My Sixteen. I may recommend that one to some friends who are just starting out. Myshelves, I have 14 of my 16 and one of my cousins thinks she has a record of the other 2. Fortunately I had relatives on both sides who were into genealogy. They were hunting up records in courthouses and exchanging information with distant relatives long before I was born. The missing set are the parents of the latecomer GGF who came over from Ireland in the 1840s. (Fortunately he used to write home and after him the correspondence was kept up for a generation or two. So my cousin is hunting for letters.) Everyone else was here a century or two before that so they've been easier to find. Although I do have a brickwall for one set of parents in the generation before that. One GGGM married in Tennessee and came to Texas and I have no idea who her parents were.
Back to books; I bought Professional Genealogy but haven't cracked it yet. I need to get my source citations straight before I go too far down that road! So I will probably buy one of the Evidence books in the meantime.
For any Aussies reading this - http://trove.nla.gov.au/