Shawker, Thomas H. Unlocking Your Genetic History: A Step-by-Step Guide to Discovering Your Family’s Medical and Genetic Heritage.

Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2004. 305p., softcover. Index, illus. $19.99. ISBN 1-4016-0144-8.

This is the fifth in a new series of instructional volumes sponsored by the National Genealogical Society, and when I reviewed the first four in The Louisiana Genealogical Register, I was very impressed. The authors were well known and trustworthy and their treatment of old subjects (such as basic research principles) and not so old (setting up a genealogy web site) was generally quite well done. But this one is somewhat different.


Published in: on 30 May 2011 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rising, Marsha Hoffman. The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall.

Cincinnati: Family Tree Books (F&W Publications), 2005. 232p., softcover. Index, illus. $19.99. ISBN 1-55870-685-2.

We all have “brick walls” — those situations in which the courthouse records have disappeared, or no census record can be found, or there are four people with the same common name in the same neighborhood at the same time, not to mention people whom we come to suspect must have landed by flying saucer. After failing to find an obvious solution, the inclination often is to throw up one’s hands and shift attention to an easier branch of the family.


Published in: on 21 May 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bridges, Myrtle N. (comp). Final Words: 772 Original Wills by Richmond County, North Carolina, Testators, 1779–1915.

Marceline, MO: Wadsworth Publishing Co, 2005. 670p., hardcover. Index, illus. (Myrtle N. Bridges, 4093 NC 55W, Angier, NC 27501 / Web: <>)

Not every book I review is a work of general methodology or national-level resources. My people, like yours, lived “locally,” wherever that location might be. I’m interested in works and collections of narrower interest, even if I haven’t (yet) found a personal connection there because I like to see how a variety of authors handle the challenge of making local records available and understandable to other researchers.


Published in: on 18 May 2011 at 3:41 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Isle of Canes.

Provo, UT: Ancestry, 2004. 583p., hardcover. Illus, maps. $24.95. ISBN 1-59331-175-3.

When one of the leading figures in our profession/avocation publishes a new book, a reviewer’s interest is automatic and immediate. But when the author is justifiably renowned for historical methodology and for compilation and interpretation of resources, and the new volume is a work of fiction, . . . well, one must admit to a bit of trepidation.


Published in: on 15 May 2011 at 4:40 am  Leave a Comment  
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Chamberlin, David C. The Conceptual Approach to Genealogy: Essential Methodology for Organizing and Compiling Genealogical Records.

Bountiful, UT: Heritage Quest, 1998. 264p.; softcover. $24.95. ISBN 1-877677-87-6.

Many novice family researchers forget that locating relevant information is only the first step: In order to interpret and link bits of information meaningfully to each other, it must all be logically organized, correlated, and then evaluated. Heaps and piles of unrelated notes and photocopies just won’t do. One needs a “system.” The author’s extremely detailed system for carrying out research and organizing the results includes most of the steps recommended by other writers:


Published in: on 13 May 2011 at 6:50 am  Leave a Comment  

Rubincam, Milton. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research.

Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1987. 74p., softcover. Illus. $7.95. ISBN 0-916489-28-0.

Rubincam was one of the most popular genealogical speakers of the older generation of researchers, an expert in evidence analysis and methodology, and the chapters of this slender volume originated in talks he gave to national and regional groups, mostly in the 1950s. He takes the position that it’s possible for new family historians (or even experienced ones) to avoid most — though not all — research traps by learning from the experience of those who have gone before.


Published in: on 10 May 2011 at 6:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coldham, Peter Wilson. American Migrations, 1765–1799: The Lives, Times, and Families of Colonial Americans Who Remained Loyal to the British Crown before, during and after the Revolutionary War, as Related in Their Own Words and through Their Correspondence.

Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co, 2000. 931p., hardcover. Index. ISBN 0-8063-1618-7.

Over the past forty years, Coldham has become a very highly regarded compiler of volumes of information from London’s Public Records Office relating to British emigration to North America. This time he mines the PRO’s vast collection of papers dealing with American Loyalist Claims. (The National Genealogical Society attempted this as long ago as 1980, but they managed to abstract only thirty-seven boxes of papers — out of 150 — before funding dried up.)


Published in: on 8 May 2011 at 6:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Ericson, Carolyn Reeves & Kathryn Hooper Davis (comps.).

Bibles, Bibles, Bibles: A Collection of 18th & 19th Century Family Bible Records. Nacogdoches, TX: Ericson Books, 2000. 231p., hardcover. Index. ISBN 1-911317-62-7.

Among the sources most useful to family researchers, Bible records are perhaps the least consulted. Even if a genealogist suspects a family Bible might still survive for a line under investigation, she’s likely not to know where it is, who presently owns it, or whether the information already has been extracted by an earlier researcher. I regard the publication of such records, therefore, as a great service to the genealogical community — but there are certain necessary inclusions.


Published in: on 5 May 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment