Two New Books for My Wish List

Two genealogy books–both featuring using the Internet to help you trace your family tree–have recently been published, are available to purchase within the next week, and are both on my wish list (hint, hint, family members…the holidays are soon approaching)!

The first is Dan Lynch’s Google Your Family Tree: Unlock the Hidden Power of Google. I’ve been aware for quite awhile that Dan was getting ready to publish this treasure, and I can’t wait to try it out! I already use many features of Google as tools for my research, but I’m sure I’ll find lots more search tips and techniques. This is the first book on Google that specifically targets using the search engine as a genealogy research tool. You can reserve your copy here.

The second book is The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy: A complete resource to using the Web to trace your family history by Kimberly Powell. I’ve been using Kimberly’s The Everything Family Tree Book as an optional text/reference book for the Online Genealogy classes that I teach through the Community Colleges of Spokane. Although I haven’t yet seen The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy, if it’s half as good as her first one, then I’m going to have to add this to my list of recommended reading that I give each of my students!

Congratulations to Dan and Kimberly on their newly-published works!

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The Long March


When Lisa put forth the Summer Reading Challenge as a topic for the 7th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, I pondered what to submit. First I thought of my favorite Irish author, Maeve Binchy, whose novels make terrific summer reads (or good winter ones, wrapped up in an afghan with a hot drink nearby!). Trouble is, I’ve read all her books available in the U.S., and her latest won’t be published over here until 2009. Besides, I wanted something a little more pertinent to a genealogy topic. I remembered my favorite quote by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” (I can correlate that to the genealogy vs. family history issue.) But I’m not a big reader of Yeats, so that was no good, either.

Aha! My mind flew back to when I was a homeschooling mom, over nine years ago (was it really that long?!), and I had found some interesting recommended books while teaching a Social Studies unit on Native Americans to my then second-grade daughter. One in particular was given high praise no matter in what resource it was listed: The Long March: the Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Pub., 1998). It is a creative non-fiction work about a young Choctaw boy, Choona, who overhears his elders discuss taking up a collection to help the starving Irish during the potato famine. Choona knows, even though the adults do not speak of it, that his family endured hardship and suffering during the Trail of Tears and wonders how they can possibly want to aid white people, who live so far away.

This incredible true story was beautifully illustrated by the author using as models the family members of Gary Whitedeer, himself an award-winning artist and historic preservationist who has been featured on TBS’s The Native Americans and National Geographic’s When Ireland Starved. The impoverished Choctaw nation raised $170 (equivalent to $5,000 today) to aid the Irish cause. If you have children in your life–and even if you don’t–you will want to obtain this book. It is an emotional experience, and I dare you to read it without shedding a tear or two!

The book was named “A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children” in 1998 and won the Children’s Books of Ireland BISTO Book of the Year Merit Award, 1999. But there’s more to all this. In 1992, eight native Irish citizens retraced the steps of the 500-mile Trail of Tears as repayment for the Choctaw’s great gift, and to raise awareness of famine relief in Somalia. In 1995, the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, visited the Choctaw Nation to personally thank them. Two great nations, both knowing suffering and starvation, are bonded at a deeply emotional and spritual level. It is a heritage of which anyone would be proud.

The Long March


When Lisa put forth the Summer Reading Challenge as a topic for the 7th Edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, I pondered what to submit. First I thought of my favorite Irish author, Maeve Binchy, whose novels make terrific summer reads (or good winter ones, wrapped up in an afghan with a hot drink nearby!). Trouble is, I’ve read all her books available in the U.S., and her latest won’t be published over here until 2009. Besides, I wanted something a little more pertinent to a genealogy topic. I remembered my favorite quote by Irish poet William Butler Yeats: “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” (I can correlate that to the genealogy vs. family history issue.) But I’m not a big reader of Yeats, so that was no good, either.

Aha! My mind flew back to when I was a homeschooling mom, over nine years ago (was it really that long?!), and I had found some interesting recommended books while teaching a Social Studies unit on Native Americans to my then second-grade daughter. One in particular was given high praise no matter in what resource it was listed: The Long March: the Choctaw’s Gift to Irish Famine Relief by Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick (Hillsboro, Oregon: Beyond Words Pub., 1998). It is a creative non-fiction work about a young Choctaw boy, Choona, who overhears his elders discuss taking up a collection to help the starving Irish during the potato famine. Choona knows, even though the adults do not speak of it, that his family endured hardship and suffering during the Trail of Tears and wonders how they can possibly want to aid white people, who live so far away.

This incredible true story was beautifully illustrated by the author using as models the family members of Gary Whitedeer, himself an award-winning artist and historic preservationist who has been featured on TBS’s The Native Americans and National Geographic’s When Ireland Starved. The impoverished Choctaw nation raised $170 (equivalent to $5,000 today) to aid the Irish cause. If you have children in your life–and even if you don’t–you will want to obtain this book. It is an emotional experience, and I dare you to read it without shedding a tear or two!

The book was named “A Smithsonian Notable Book for Children” in 1998 and won the Children’s Books of Ireland BISTO Book of the Year Merit Award, 1999. But there’s more to all this. In 1992, eight native Irish citizens retraced the steps of the 500-mile Trail of Tears as repayment for the Choctaw’s great gift, and to raise awareness of famine relief in Somalia. In 1995, the President of Ireland, Mary Robinson, visited the Choctaw Nation to personally thank them. Two great nations, both knowing suffering and starvation, are bonded at a deeply emotional and spritual level. It is a heritage of which anyone would be proud.

Evidence Explained: A Book Review

I was very excited to recently receive a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007). As most of you are aware, this is the hot new book in the genealogical world. If you’ve been researching your family tree for any length of time, you probably recognize that the author is considered the leading authority in properly citing one’s sources in genealogical research. Her last book on the subject, Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian (also from GPC, 1997) and her publication, QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style (First Revised Edition, GPC, 2007), are integral to personal and public genealogical libraries around the country, if not the world.


The first thing I noticed about Evidence Explained was the thickness and weight of the tome. While Evidence! is a paperback of 124 pages, and QuickSheet is a reference sheet published as a laminated folder for quick reference while working online, Evidence Explained is an 885-page hardback, weighing approximately 3 pounds! There’s good reason for the size of the book. Ms. Mills has packed it full of lessons on analysis and citation as well as explanations and examples of sources and their corresponding citations.

In the first chapter, “Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis,” the author sets forth to instruct her readers on the necessity of analyzing the sources that genealogists and family historians come across while doing their research. It is not enough to have sources, she says; it is imperative that we learn to evaluate the quality of the source and step back to critique the circumstances under which the source was created, copied, archived, and presented to the public. This chapter is subdivided into the following topics: Basic Issues, Classes of Evidence, Problematic Concepts, Processed Records (Formats), and Textual Criticism.

The second chapter is “Fundamentals of Citation,” and its lessons are partitioned so: Basic Issues, Common Practices for Citing, Family History Library, Online Materials, Organization, and Stylistic Matters. A quote near the beginning of the chapter sets the stage for its purpose: “…once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher’s responsibility to adapt those principles to fit materials that do not match any standard model” [pg. 41]. Since genealogists make discoveries in the most unusual sources (jewelry, family needlework and portraits, or personal mementos, for instance), “Fundamentals of Citation” gives both the structure and the liberty that each family historian needs to cite the facts unique to his or her own circumstances. These first two chapters ought to be required reading for anyone who is serious–or merely curious–about learning and recording the history of their family. They will answer questions and provide solutions to problems the reader may not have even previously considered.

The next twelve chapters present the examples and explanations of various types of sources, and are accordingly titled:

  • * “Archives & Artifacts”
  • * “Business & Institutional Records
  • * “Cemetery Records”
  • * “Census Records”
  • * “Church Records”
  • * “Local & State Records: Courts & Governance
  • * “Local & State Records: Licenses, Registrations, Rolls & Vital Records”
  • * “Local & State Records: Property & Probates”
  • * “National Government Records”
  • * “Publications: Books, CDs, Maps, Leaflets & Videos”
  • * “Publications: Legal Works & Government Documentation”
  • * “Publications: Periodicals, Broadcast & Web Miscellanea”

As you can see, there really isn’t a resource that can’t be covered in the above list. Each chapter begins with about 20 pages, colored gray for easy access, filled with citation examples of that particular topic, called QuickCheck Models. Every page of the QuickCheck Models contains a labeled Source List Entry, First (Full) Reference Note, and Subsequent (Short) Note example for a common source in that group. The main part of the chapter addresses the information itself, prefaced by a section on Basic Issues, as well as addressing any special circumstances these particular sources may create. They are then classified according to categories, and detailed explanations of what these resources may contain and how and why they need to be cited is precisely given. The body of the book is followed by an 11-page glossary of terms, a bibliography, the main index, and an index to the QuickCheck models.

Although I’ve had this book for less than a month, I’m already finding that I’m using it on almost a daily basis, either for citing my sources in my family tree databases or here on my blog. It’s everything I had hoped to find when I purchased the author’s previous book on this topic. Evidence! left me a bit bewildered because I had so many source circumstances that didn’t fit neatly into the models she gave. However, Evidence Explained not only gives me a wealth of examples that have, so far, covered every situation I’ve come across, but teaches me how to determine citations for examples she may not have given. As well, the lessons of the first two chapters were educational and enlightening for me, a genealogist by avocation.

To purchase your own copy of Evidence Explained, visit the website of the publisher, Genealogical Publishing Company.

Evidence Explained: A Book Review

I was very excited to recently receive a copy of Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, Maryland, 2007). As most of you are aware, this is the hot new book in the genealogical world. If you’ve been researching your family tree for any length of time, you probably recognize that the author is considered the leading authority in properly citing one’s sources in genealogical research. Her last book on the subject, Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian (also from GPC, 1997) and her publication, QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style (First Revised Edition, GPC, 2007), are integral to personal and public genealogical libraries around the country, if not the world.


The first thing I noticed about Evidence Explained was the thickness and weight of the tome. While Evidence! is a paperback of 124 pages, and QuickSheet is a reference sheet published as a laminated folder for quick reference while working online, Evidence Explained is an 885-page hardback, weighing approximately 3 pounds! There’s good reason for the size of the book. Ms. Mills has packed it full of lessons on analysis and citation as well as explanations and examples of sources and their corresponding citations.

In the first chapter, “Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis,” the author sets forth to instruct her readers on the necessity of analyzing the sources that genealogists and family historians come across while doing their research. It is not enough to have sources, she says; it is imperative that we learn to evaluate the quality of the source and step back to critique the circumstances under which the source was created, copied, archived, and presented to the public. This chapter is subdivided into the following topics: Basic Issues, Classes of Evidence, Problematic Concepts, Processed Records (Formats), and Textual Criticism.

The second chapter is “Fundamentals of Citation,” and its lessons are partitioned so: Basic Issues, Common Practices for Citing, Family History Library, Online Materials, Organization, and Stylistic Matters. A quote near the beginning of the chapter sets the stage for its purpose: “…once we have learned the principles of citation, we have both an artistic license and a researcher’s responsibility to adapt those principles to fit materials that do not match any standard model” [pg. 41]. Since genealogists make discoveries in the most unusual sources (jewelry, family needlework and portraits, or personal mementos, for instance), “Fundamentals of Citation” gives both the structure and the liberty that each family historian needs to cite the facts unique to his or her own circumstances. These first two chapters ought to be required reading for anyone who is serious–or merely curious–about learning and recording the history of their family. They will answer questions and provide solutions to problems the reader may not have even previously considered.

The next twelve chapters present the examples and explanations of various types of sources, and are accordingly titled:

  • * “Archives & Artifacts”
  • * “Business & Institutional Records
  • * “Cemetery Records”
  • * “Census Records”
  • * “Church Records”
  • * “Local & State Records: Courts & Governance
  • * “Local & State Records: Licenses, Registrations, Rolls & Vital Records”
  • * “Local & State Records: Property & Probates”
  • * “National Government Records”
  • * “Publications: Books, CDs, Maps, Leaflets & Videos”
  • * “Publications: Legal Works & Government Documentation”
  • * “Publications: Periodicals, Broadcast & Web Miscellanea”

As you can see, there really isn’t a resource that can’t be covered in the above list. Each chapter begins with about 20 pages, colored gray for easy access, filled with citation examples of that particular topic, called QuickCheck Models. Every page of the QuickCheck Models contains a labeled Source List Entry, First (Full) Reference Note, and Subsequent (Short) Note example for a common source in that group. The main part of the chapter addresses the information itself, prefaced by a section on Basic Issues, as well as addressing any special circumstances these particular sources may create. They are then classified according to categories, and detailed explanations of what these resources may contain and how and why they need to be cited is precisely given. The body of the book is followed by an 11-page glossary of terms, a bibliography, the main index, and an index to the QuickCheck models.

Although I’ve had this book for less than a month, I’m already finding that I’m using it on almost a daily basis, either for citing my sources in my family tree databases or here on my blog. It’s everything I had hoped to find when I purchased the author’s previous book on this topic. Evidence! left me a bit bewildered because I had so many source circumstances that didn’t fit neatly into the models she gave. However, Evidence Explained not only gives me a wealth of examples that have, so far, covered every situation I’ve come across, but teaches me how to determine citations for examples she may not have given. As well, the lessons of the first two chapters were educational and enlightening for me, a genealogist by avocation.

To purchase your own copy of Evidence Explained, visit the website of the publisher, Genealogical Publishing Company.

The Everything Family Tree Book

This summer while I was at my local public library, I picked up a pile of books for reading at my leisure. I perused the “new book” section, and came across Kimberly Powell’s The Everything Family Tree Book (2nd edition, 2006, Adams Media). I “know” Kimberly from her About.com: Genealogy blog, and I’d read some nice reviews about her book. So I checked it out as well, and took it with me to the lake cabin in August.

First of all, I liked the clean, concise outline of the book. Everything is well-organized and easy to find. Even more important are the clear, detailed steps of researching. The explanations of various records and how and where to find them are invaluable. The more I read, the more I liked. I wish I had had this book back when I started my genealogy! But even though I’ve been researching my family tree for over 20 years now, have read a number of genealogy how-to books, and attended many seminars and workshops, this helpful guide is still pertinent to my research. For more experienced researchers, it’s a great refresher for overviews on various types of records, research approaches, and the latest in technology (DNA, Internet research, etc.).

Here are the list of chapters:

  1. 1. Family Tree Basics
  2. 2. The Journey Begins at Home
  3. 3. Growing the Family Tree
  4. 4. The Name of the Game
  5. 5. Where Do I Look for That?
  6. 6. Vital Records
  7. 7. Clues in the Census
  8. 8. Marching Papers [military records]
  9. 9. A Nation of Immigrants
  10. 10. Clues in the Cemetery
  11. 11. Following in Their Footsteps [land records]
  12. 12. Probate and Estate Trails
  13. 13. Branching Out [other record types]
  14. 14. Special Situations in Family Trees
  15. 15. Walking the Web
  16. 16. Shelves of Possibilities [research facilities]
  17. 17. Tools for Taming the Family Tree
  18. 18. Assembling the Pieces [methodology]
  19. 19. When You Get Stuck
  20. 20. Uncovering Your Genetic Roots
  21. 21. Sharing Your Family History

What really clinched it for me that this was a book worth owning was that during the week at the lake, I caught both my 13-year-old son and my 16-year-old daughter picking it up where I had left it open on the table and start reading it! Aha! While my daughter has always been interested in history, and they’ve both had a mild passing interest in any family stories I’ve shared, to actually witness them reading a genealogy how-to book was enough to send me into raptures! When I got back home, I immediately ordered a copy through Tim Agazio’s Genealogy Reviews Online Bookstore at Amazon.

I’m so happy with this book that I’ve e-mailed all 51 people on my e-mailing list that have taken my Beginning Online Genealogy course the last few years through the Community Colleges of Spokane’s Institute for Extended Learning, and recommended this book as a must-have for their personal home library. I’m also using it as a reference for my new Intermediate Online Genealogy course that I’ll be starting during the Winter Quarter.

If you’re looking for a great book for a friend or family member that has shown interest in genealogy, or you want a handy, easy-to-use, economical reference guide for your own home library, I recommend picking up a copy for yourself! Remember, the holidays will be here soon!

The Everything Family Tree Book

This summer while I was at my local public library, I picked up a pile of books for reading at my leisure. I perused the “new book” section, and came across Kimberly Powell’s The Everything Family Tree Book (2nd edition, 2006, Adams Media). I “know” Kimberly from her About.com: Genealogy blog, and I’d read some nice reviews about her book. So I checked it out as well, and took it with me to the lake cabin in August.

First of all, I liked the clean, concise outline of the book. Everything is well-organized and easy to find. Even more important are the clear, detailed steps of researching. The explanations of various records and how and where to find them are invaluable. The more I read, the more I liked. I wish I had had this book back when I started my genealogy! But even though I’ve been researching my family tree for over 20 years now, have read a number of genealogy how-to books, and attended many seminars and workshops, this helpful guide is still pertinent to my research. For more experienced researchers, it’s a great refresher for overviews on various types of records, research approaches, and the latest in technology (DNA, Internet research, etc.).

Here are the list of chapters:

  1. 1. Family Tree Basics
  2. 2. The Journey Begins at Home
  3. 3. Growing the Family Tree
  4. 4. The Name of the Game
  5. 5. Where Do I Look for That?
  6. 6. Vital Records
  7. 7. Clues in the Census
  8. 8. Marching Papers [military records]
  9. 9. A Nation of Immigrants
  10. 10. Clues in the Cemetery
  11. 11. Following in Their Footsteps [land records]
  12. 12. Probate and Estate Trails
  13. 13. Branching Out [other record types]
  14. 14. Special Situations in Family Trees
  15. 15. Walking the Web
  16. 16. Shelves of Possibilities [research facilities]
  17. 17. Tools for Taming the Family Tree
  18. 18. Assembling the Pieces [methodology]
  19. 19. When You Get Stuck
  20. 20. Uncovering Your Genetic Roots
  21. 21. Sharing Your Family History

What really clinched it for me that this was a book worth owning was that during the week at the lake, I caught both my 13-year-old son and my 16-year-old daughter picking it up where I had left it open on the table and start reading it! Aha! While my daughter has always been interested in history, and they’ve both had a mild passing interest in any family stories I’ve shared, to actually witness them reading a genealogy how-to book was enough to send me into raptures! When I got back home, I immediately ordered a copy through Tim Agazio’s Genealogy Reviews Online Bookstore at Amazon.

I’m so happy with this book that I’ve e-mailed all 51 people on my e-mailing list that have taken my Beginning Online Genealogy course the last few years through the Community Colleges of Spokane’s Institute for Extended Learning, and recommended this book as a must-have for their personal home library. I’m also using it as a reference for my new Intermediate Online Genealogy course that I’ll be starting during the Winter Quarter.

If you’re looking for a great book for a friend or family member that has shown interest in genealogy, or you want a handy, easy-to-use, economical reference guide for your own home library, I recommend picking up a copy for yourself! Remember, the holidays will be here soon!