Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Research Tip : "How To" Genealogy Books for Beginners & Advanced

It doesn't matter how many years you've been at it, whether you've been doing it for yourself or semi-professionally, or whether you've written books & articles and given public lectures...genealogy is a lifelong learning process.  In order to make us better family history detectives, we must make the commitment to continue educating ourselves...not only in the latest & the greatest, but in basic, solid research methodology.

There are many ways to accomplish this and my advice to you - try them all.  However, today we will put the focus on "how to" books that are often mistakenly labeled as for beginners only.  None of the book titles that I will share with you are strictly for those just starting out their family history.  All, in different ways, arm you with outlines of the best resources out there, common and obscure alike.

To be a successful family history detective, you need to do four main things:
  1. Identify a resource type
  2. Locate it
  3. Retrieve all pertinent information
  4. Evaluate it
The books listed here, will help you with all of these, but the most important is the indentification.  If you don't know about the existence of a source, then how can you look for it?  For example, did you know that there were Rural Survey's taken in the 1930's & 1940's that resulted in very detailed descriptions of homes & property, and that many of these records still exist?  Now, how can you seek these out if you don't know they exist in the first place?  That's where the education part comes in.  [More on Rural Surveys in a future blog]

Take the time this winter to build on your research skills and read one or more of the following books.  Even if you think that you "know it all" already, I will bet you that you will have at least one "Ah-Ha" moment when you discover something new or are reminded of something old:

Obviously, this is only a sampling of titles available.  Stop in to your local library and inquire about genealogy handbooks.  If what you want isn't on the shelf, request it via interlibrary loan.  All of these titles and more are available for checkout from the Van Buren District Library with a valid patron card.

Nameless Picture of the Day
 unknown Michigan National Guard soldier
Photographer - Sievert, Kalamazoo

Can you identify the National Guard soldiers in this photo?  Are you familiar with the photographer's name?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.