Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Researcher's guide to American genealogy

A new resource has been added to the research guides section of the book collection at the CCGS Library.  The fourth edition of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy was released in 2017 by author Val D. Greenwood.  A substantial book of close to 800 pages, it is divided in two parts:
  1. Background to research
  2. Records and their use
The author takes the research process quite seriously, stating that "...the notion that when we are copying someone else's work we are doing family history research/genealogy is a misconception." (p.5)  His best advice to improve your research?  Document entire families, not just your direct line ancestors (p.10).

Part I is full of practical tips on a wide range of subjects.  For instance, the chapter on language covers handwriting, abbreviations, spelling, useful Latin terms, nicknames, numbers and more.  A chapter on correspondence covers filing of documents acquired, analyzing correspondence results, writing your letter, its appearance, choosing the recipients, and a checklist of good writing practices. Other chapter topics in Part 1 are: understanding genealogical research, planning, evidence, libraries and the National Archives, reference works, organizing your findings, computer technology, the internet, and family history.

In Part 2 there is a wealth of information concerning specific types of records that are encountered in family research.  The chapter on wills, for example, covers the different types of wills, probating, contested wills (a process usually providing great genealogical information!), the value of wills, problems specific to wills, and finding and using them.  Suffice it to say, no matter what kind of record you are investigating, this handbook will provide you with a thorough and thought-provoking overview.

I am very impressed with this book, and 75% of reviewers on Amazon gave it 5 stars, so I'm not alone.  If you are embarking on a new area of research, having trouble with something, or just wanting to tighten up your research practices, I think you would find valuable information and inspiration in this comprehensive guide.  Come by the CCGS Library and spend some time with it, why don't you?

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