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.


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

Swan, James. The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Services and Research.

New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, 2004. 361p., softcover. Index, illus. $75.00. ISBN 1-55570-491-3.

Working the reference desk in the Genealogy Department of a large public library can be an eye-opening experience. You have to know (or be able to identify) the principal resources for family research that might be very different from your own personal research, often involving regions of the country and ethnic groups with which you have limited experience. You have to be able to instruct beginners in the most basic concepts, often many times each day.


Published in: on 12 June 2011 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Early, Joseph E., Jr. A Texas Baptist History Sourcebook.

Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2004. 676p., hardcover. Index. $29.95. ISBN 1-57441-176-4.

Early is a professor of religion at Cumberland College and the author of two previous books on the history of the Baptist denomination in Texas. This one is meant as a complementary volume to Harry McBeth’s Texas Baptists: A Sesquicentennial History (1998), currently the standard historical survey.


Published in: on 8 June 2011 at 5:17 am  Leave a Comment  

Womack, Annette Carpenter. The Men Who Built Fort Claiborne in Natchitoches, Louisiana: Captain Edward D. Turner’s Company of the 2nd Regiment of the United States Army.

Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2003. 299p., softcover. $37.00 + $4.00 s/h. ISBN 1-58549-815-7.

Edward Turner was born about 1768, probably near Boston, a descendant of early settlers in the Plymouth Colony. In 1791, he was commissioned an ensign in the U.S. Army, serving thereafter in New England as a paymaster and quartermaster, and being promoted to captain in 1794, with supply duties on the frontier.


Published in: on 5 June 2011 at 8:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Hinckley, Kathleen W. Your Guide to the Federal Census for Genealogists, Researchers, and Family Historians.

Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2002. 275p., softcover. Index, illus, maps. $21.99. ISBN 1-55870-588-0.

Kathy Hinckley has built an enviable reputation not only for professionalism in the field of genealogy and for her writing and lecturing skills, but for her expertise in original sources, especially of the 20th century. The U.S. census was the first place most of us were directed to when we began researching our families, and most folks probably believe they have nothing more to learn about the subject. Not so!


Published in: on 2 June 2011 at 8:30 am  Leave a Comment  

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