Great Genealogy Books – in my opinion!

2012 is the National Year of Reading here in Australia, so I thought I’d share with you some of my great genealogy books. Yes it’s is true that I work for a genealogy store, and I am one of their best customers (*giggle*) but in this case I’ve opted to go with titles that I’ve bought elsewhere that we don’t sell at Gould Genealogy & History. So here’s snippets of five titles that I believe are great genealogy books.

1. THE ZEN OF GENEALOGY: The Lighter Side of Genealogy – Beth Maltbie Uyehara
This has to be one of my all-time fave genealogy books. It is not a how-to book, or even a book choc full of websites saying where to look. But rather as the subtitle suggests it is a look at the ‘Lighter Side of Genealogy’, and is totally hilarious from start to finish, but it really does have useful, practical advice throughout. From genealogy yoga, to seeing how fast your relis run when you mention the word ‘fascinating’, to the genealogy Olympics, and a confession from a geneaholic, and how a non-g (ie. non genealogy spouse) puts up with us, and our insatiable need to find more … and so much more. Here’s some snippets.

… Plow Pose. Posture: Position a tall stack of index books on a library table. Crouch in front of the stack. Action: Make a fist of your left hand, with the index finger pointed. Slowly run the extended finger down page after page of the first book. Close book, set aside and repeat with next book. Plow through the whole stack, the drag the stack in front of you again and repeat. Continue until the library closes. Mantra: (Repeat silently) Where? Where? Where? Where? …

… Talk about a fascinating hobby! How could stamp collecting, high-stakes poker or sky diving compare to the madcap genealogical adventures? To my mind, the ultimate benefit of genealogical research is that nothing makes you more popular with your relatives than sharing your genealogical findings. You’ll be the star of ever holiday gathering when you wheel in your latest research on a forklift, and unpack your tape recorder, digital camera, lie detector and DNA kit on your cousin’s kitchen table …

This book is available from for US$18.00.

Seriously if you want to know about FamilySearch, this is THE book to read. FamilySearch is far more than just a search website now – there is the indexing, the forums, the wiki, the courses, FamilySearch labs, social groups, as well as what the difference is between old and new FamilySearch. As this website continues to grow and evolve, the author will update his to cater for the latest changes – which in my mind opting for short-print runs to allow updating was a very smart move.

I will admit that I haven’t read this book cover to cover, but have certainly used it as a reference work. It is FULL of screenshots, and plenty of tips such as:

… Remember that the catalog search is very literal. If you type in the word “Tann” the search results will only contain entries with those exact letter. But if you add the wildcard character, like this “Tann*”, the results will include any entry with the first letters of “Tann” …

… The wildcard search also works on a Title search …

This is available from BYU Bookstore for US$39.95

3. DEAD END HOBBY: Oddments from the World of Family History – Mick Southwick

It seemed appropriate to combine these two titles to one entry, as they both come from the same author, and they actually complement each other as well.

First up I have to thank the world of Twitter for enlightening me to these titles … @HistoryMick (as Mick is on Twitter) tweeted that he had some new e-books available late last year, so naturally I went and had a look.

I admit that the title of his ‘Dead End Hobby’ got me in … love it!. Anyway as Mick’s description says this book is choc full of oddments from the world of family history. There’s snippets from everywhere: last wishes and words, quotes, unusual parish register entries, witty monumental inscriptions, details of appalling working and living conditions, strange coincidences and a whole lot more. Here’s a few examples:

… Obituary: Lately, at Caston, Norfolk, aged 97, Mr Thomas Tomlinson, a man of most eccentric habits. Hist first wife was sixty years older than himself, his second about twenty years younger. His widow was born at the time of Waterloo – himself only a few years after the battle of Culloden. [Plymouth, Devonport & Stonehouse Herald, 23rd June 1849]

… 5th August 1736 – marriage of C. Smith and Ann Hand, ‘the witch’ of Waltham. [Goadby Folvuille, Leics, PR]

… The Winter of 1860-61: The chief streets of the metropolis have been haunted for weeks by gaunt labourers, who have moaned out a song of want that has penetrated the thickest walls. The workhouses have been daily besieged by noisy and half-famished crowds; the clumsy poor-law system, with its twenty-three thousand officers, its boards, and its twelve thousand annual reports, has notoriously broken down; the working clergy, and the London magistrates, worn out and exhausted, have been the willing almoners of stray benevolence; Dorcas societies, soup-kitchens, ragged schools, asylums, refuges, and all the varied machinery of British charity, have been strained to the utmost; and now we may sit down and congratulate ourselves that only a few of our fellow creatures have been starved to death. The storm to all appearances has passed, but the really poor will feel the effects of those two bitter months – December 1860 and January 1861 – for years. [Ragged London]

To purchase this book you can do this through Mick’s website, and choose either e-book (£2.00) or the printed version (£7.00)

Now, on to Mick’s other book the ‘Family & Local History Quiz Book’. The title is as it suggests, a quiz book with 60 pages of questions about family and local history. History was never a strong subject of mine, and based on these questions I most certainly don’t know much at all. But that just means more learning … right? As I say, the learning NEVER ends.

Anyway, there’s a total of 39 quizzes included in the book, which are divided into subject categories like general family history, test your latin, the calendar, social history, war and the military, specifically Scotland, architecture/buildings, general British History (Easy) (as well as moderate and hard ones too) … and so on. Here’s a few sample questions.

In genealogy, what is a “stray”?
In Chapman Code, what geographical area does SAL stand for?
What was “right of piscary”?
What was/is a “regnal year”?
What are “feet of fines”?

I could go on, but you get the idea anyway … and I know you’ll agree with me that this is P-E-R-F-E-C-T for your next genealogy society’s Quiz Night?

Also available through Mick’s website, and choose either e-book (£1.90) or the printed version (£6.90)

5. THE BIG GENEALOGY BLOG BOOK: 201 Topics, Plus Tips and Tricks for your Genealogy Blog – Amy Coffin
This was a purchase from another of my Twitter genie friends (@ACoffin), and one of my favourite bloggers with her We Tree blog. Available as an e-book format, this book is a fabulous. As a book person, I chose to print a copy of the PDF out for me, rather than read it on screen. It is so well laid out, with appropriate photos throughout, and tips as well. While I do post regularly on the Genealogy History & News blog, with my own blog that you’re reading at this very moment (yay!), I’m still a complete novice, so can do with all the help and tips I can.

So this book seemed highly appropriate, and will be of valuable use to me and my blog.

Covering topics such as 6 blogging myths, tips for writing good posts, how to get more readers, quality control: a blogger’s checklist, 25 great topics for genealogy society blogs and a bunch more … I do believer everyone who is a newbie (or not-yet-started) blogger should grab a copy of this.  It’s awesome!!

Available as a download through Lulu, for US$2.99 – it’s a bargain.  Check on Amazon for a Kindle version, and iTunes to get it on your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

So there you go … there’s 5 titles that I believe are great genealogy books. And if you read right to the end of this, I’m so sorry it ended up long, and thank you for sticking with it.

Till next time, Happy reading and Happy researching 🙂

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