Stevenson, Noel C. The Genealogical Reader.

New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1977, 1958. 188p., softcover. Index. [Out of Print]

These days, we’re used to finding a dozen or more nationally published genealogical periodicals on the shelves of even a small family history research library, but that’s a phenomenon of only the last generation or so. Until the 1970s, there were only a handful of journals in our field, and unless you subscribed to them personally, you had to travel to a large city’s public library, especially if you wanted to consult back issues.

Stevenson, a Fellow of the American Society of Genealogists and an author of some note himself, was aware of this lack, and in the late 1950s he put together this anthology of thirty-four articles from The American Genealogist and The New England Historical & Genealogical Register, plus a few papers and reports published elsewhere, to serve, he hoped, as a “cure [for] any or some of the problems that plague every genealogist from time to time.” He might have added “in every generation,” because these fifty- and sixty-year-old essays, most of them five or six pages long, are equally germane today. The authors he includes should be familiar to any researcher by now: Rubincam, Moriarty, Jacobus, Colket, and Stevenson himself, among others. Some of the topics are a bit abstruse for beginners — session laws, “benefit of clergy,” deeds enrolled — but others are still basic, including the calendar change of 1752, American heraldry, aliases in Great Britain, probate law vs. custom, and “age at marriage,” as well as practical advice on getting along with public officials, dealing with commercial genealogists, and how not to get sucked into “lost heirs” scams. The usefulness of this volume you may judge by how many times it causes you to say, “Hey, I’d forgotten that!”

Note: While this book is officially out of print, copies are usually available from booksellers at regional and national conferences. It can also be found at a reasonable price from OP dealers at Amazon and elsewhere online.

Published in: on 14 June 2011 at 5:40 am  Leave a Comment  

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