Thursday, March 20, 2014

Book Review - "Finding Your Roots: Easy-to-Do Genealogy and FamilyHistory" by Janice Schultz

I read a lot of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and one of the main varieties of non-fiction that I read are genealogy books, whether on general instruction or specific themes (such as DNA, sourcing, particular record types, etc.).  With the volume of genealogy books that I read, close to one per month, I thought that I might add a book review as a semi-regular feature to the blog.

The first book to be reviewed in this feature is "Finding Your Roots: Easy-to-Do Genealogy and Family History" by Janice Schultz, published by Huron Street Press, an imprint of the American Library Association. According to the biographical blurb, prior to retirement in 2013, Ms. Schultz was the genealogy librarian/branch manager for the Midwest Genealogy Center at the Mid-Continent Public Library.  I've never been to the MGC, but I know it is a major genealogical library.

"Finding Your Roots" is a reasonably comprehensive and up-to-date genealogy how-to instructional book, suitable for beginners to genealogy, but with enough information to serve as a solid refresher for more experienced practitioners. In the preface, Schultz states that her original intent was to update Ray Wright's "The Genealogist's Handbook", originally published in 1995. (A good book, by the way, one which I read some months ago and recommend.)  The weakness of Wright's book is that it set in the pre-web world of research, and Schultz does a fine job of bringing the concepts into the 21st century.

What I'm always looking for in an instructional book is some nugget that I wasn't aware of before, even something so small as a mention of a resource I wasn't previously aware of .  For example, in a section about military records, Schultz mentions a periodical concerned with Confederate veterans that published between 1893 and 1932 called "The Confederate Veteran" and that it is available at FamilySearch.  I know of at least one Confederate veteran in my wife's tree, so I'll be taking a look at that resource in due time.

There are a few small issues I saw - the discussion on sourcing your research is an afterthought rather than a proper section in its own right, and I believe that she is factually mistaken when she states that New York passenger arrival records are extant from 1820, as I distinctly recall seeing something in print from NARA that there are missing passenger arrival lists for the port of New York prior to 1850, but I cannot put my hands on that document at this time, so I could be mistaken.

Overall, "Finding Your Roots" is a solid effort, worthy of a place in your genealogy library if you do not already own a good how-to book or at the very least, a check-out from your local public library.

Grade:  B+

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