Fleming, Ann Carter. The Organized Family Historian: How to File, Manage, and Protect Your Genealogical Research and Heirlooms.

Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2004. 292p., softcover. Index, illus, CD. $19.99. ISBN 1-4016-0129-4.

As every genealogist knows, as soon as you start to gather original documents and photocopies and family photos and correspondence and research notes, it begins reproducing secretly, at night, all by itself. Pretty soon, your two ring-binders have become a packed four-drawer file cabinet and you haven’t seen your dining room table in months. Ann Fleming, president of NGS and a family researcher of wide experience, wants to save you from all that. The question is whether it takes an entire book to do it. She begins with all the reasons and ways you should organize your work and your results from the very beginning, including a discussion of file folders versus ring-binders, spiral pads versus a laptop computer or PDA, keeping to-do lists and a research notebook to focus you on the particular task at hand, and so on. Then she proceeds to the proper use of those basic research-tracking forms we all learned about in our first genealogical month: Pedigree charts, family group sheets, and research and correspondence logs. In the following chapters, she expands the discussion to more specialized forms and record-keeping methods, including those for federal and state census schedules, courthouse-type vital records, military records, wills and probates, land research, city directories, church records (though I’m not sure how such a diverse body of information can be handled on a standardized form), immigration and naturalization files, cemetery records and surveys, and school and medical records, among others.

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Published in: on 23 February 2010 at 7:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Renick, Barbara. Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family’s History and Heritage.

Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2003. 241p., softcover. Index, illus. $19.99. ISBN 1-4016-0019-0.

Because genealogy is possibly the most popular hobby or avocation in the U.S. today, there is no shortage of how-to books aimed at the novice — though very few of them are really useful. Still, anyone publishing a new basic textbook faces stiff competition. The more expert and experienced the author, the more accurate the information presented is going to be, and Renick is certainly a widely-known and respected author and lecturer, as well as an experienced teacher. Moreover, she combines attention to the most essential lessons in fundamental genealogical instruction with an easy, informal style, successfully walking the narrow line between textbookishness and superficial offhandedness. She expects her audience to include not only complete novices, but those who attempted unsuccessfully to carry out family research without foreknowledge of methods and sources, and also those who have picked up bits of information on the Internet and don’t quite know what to do with them. Of course, any well-written text can also serve as a refresher for the experienced family researcher.

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Published in: on 20 February 2010 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Richardson, Douglas. Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families.

Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2005. xxxv, 1,098p, hardcover. Index. $100. ISBN 0-8063-1759-0.

In 2004, Richardson, a highly regarded specialist in royal and peerage genealogy with numerous published articles to his credit, brought out the first volume in a planned series — Plantagenet Ancestry, which tracked the descents of some 190 immigrants to the North American colonies from the Plantagenet monarchs of England, and which weighed in at 945 pages. This second installment is 150 pages thicker, and there are at least two more volumes in development, on descents from early feudal barons, and from the Emperor Charlemagne.

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Published in: on 4 February 2010 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Richardson, Douglas. Plantagenet Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families.

Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2004. xxix, 945p., hardcover. Index, illus. $85.00. ISBN 0-8063-1750-7.

Even though I do not, to my knowledge, have a single drop of royal blood in my veins, I have a longstanding interest in peerage genealogy — if only because the earliest surviving records concern the lineages of European society’s movers and shakers, not the yeoman farmers and small tradesmen whose genes I carry. Richardson is well known and widely respected in this field, having published numerous peerage articles in the most respected journals and having been a contributor to the last couple of editions of Weis. Those of us who hang out on the <soc.genealogy.medieval> newsgroup on Usenet have watched for years as this massive work took shape (always keeping in mind that the level of discourse in that venue often verges on the sophomoric).

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Published in: on 2 February 2010 at 3:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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