Jacobus, Donald Lines. Genealogy as Pastime and Profession.

2d ed., revised. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1991, 1968. 120p., softcover. $8.95. ISBN 0-8063-0188-0.

Jacobus is often regarded as the father of modern, “scientific” genealogy and this relatively slender volume (the first edition of which was published in 1930) is still one of the very best explanations of research principles and guides to types of resource materials published in English.

Other major figures among his contemporaries, like Milton Rubincam, regarded it as THE classic, largely because the author was an undisputed master of every aspect of his subject. His many published articles and books were and still are models of critical research and analysis, and The American Genealogist, which he founded in 1922 (as The New Haven Genealogical Magazine) is still one of the best periodicals in the field. The chapters in this volume range far and wide, from a discussion of the nature of family pride to the sometimes touchy relationship between genealogy and academic history, from naming patterns in colonial New England to the strange impulse to discover and prove royal ancestry. He considers genealogy as a profession (conditions in which, he says, are “unsatisfactory”) and how (and whether) to become a professional. Other chapters focus on “The Client” and commercial firms generally (quoting Benjamin Franklin that “Half the Truth is often a great Lie”), and on the practical aspects of putting together a publishable family history, as well as such utilitarian subjects as dating systems and analysis of original sources. This is one of those books that every serious genealogist should reread every few years, just to stay centered.

Published in: on 30 April 2011 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  

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