Monday, January 20, 2014
Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques - Book Review
While normally, I do not review books on my blog, I had the opportunity to receive a review copy of the book through the Grey County Historical Society of which I am the current president. When I was told the title and the authors of the book by the treasurer, who receives the Society’s mail, I jumped on the opportunity to read the book and review it.
Advanced Genealogy Research Techniques by George C. Morgan and Drew Smith. New York: McGraw Education, 2014, 206 p., includes index and bibliographies. ISBN: 9780071816502
As implied appropriately in the title, this book is intended for genealogical researchers who already know the basic genealogical records and methodology but are looking for guidance on how to overcome the stumbling points encountered by all researchers as they progress in their research. George G. Morgan and Drew Smith, perhaps best known as the producers of the The Genealogy GuysTM Podcasts, share the knowledge they have gained through their own research and what they have learned from others. George Morgan is the author of 11 books and many genealogy articles. He is also a genealogical speaker. Drew Smith is a university librarian and author of many genealogy articles. Both are involved with many genealogical societies.
In the introduction, the authors explain the brick wall metaphor that they use as the framework for presenting advanced genealogical research techniques. In each of the first eight chapters, the authors focus on a strategy for getting past a researcher’s brick wall and the final chapter shows how to put all the techniques together.
Each chapter has a similar format. First, the technique is explained in terms of the brick wall metaphor and then expanded to show how it relates to genealogical research. Next, the authors provide several examples from research. The chapter ends with a summary and many have a source list.
The design makes the material easy to read with sub-headings, an easy to read font, and wide inside margins in the text portions. Illustrations include screen shots, images of documents, photographs, and tables. The illustrations are aids to understanding the techniques and examples presented.
The chapter on “Apply Technological Techniques” focuses primarily on DNA but also provides information about three specialized genealogical software programs. The section on DNA provides an introduction to DNA testing and how it relates to genealogical research. This is one section that requires several readings, especially for those new to this topic, to gain an understanding of what types of testing are available and the benefits of each. The software programs looked at are GenSmarts, Clooz and Evidentia.
The examples in Chapter one “Examine the Brick Wall in Detail” illustrate details that a researcher might initially notice in various types of records but the authors remind the researcher to review sources that you already have and to look carefully at all details for clues that you might have missed. In particular, example two, the dissection of an obituary, shows how you could chart what you learn, what is inferred and where else you might look for further information.
Other chapters in the book are “Use Brute Force”, “Go Around the Wall”, “Talk to a Friend”, Use Crowdsourcing”, “Hire a Demolition Expert”, “Rest Up and Attack the Brick Wall Another Time” and “Put the Techniques to Work”.
For me, this is a book that you would read through to get the overview of the techniques presented. During your research and as you come to a brick wall, you might re-read the book or appropriate sections to help you choose which techniques might help knock it down.
I recommend this book as a great addition to a person’s genealogy book collection. Do you agree?
© 2014 Janet Iles