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Book reviews - Family History research

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  • Book reviews - Family History Research

    The following book reviews have been submitted by members of Family Tree Forum.


    Beginning Your Family History by George Pelling
    The Family Tree Detective - Tracing your ancestors in England and Wales by Colin D. Rogers.

    At the very start of our active research into our ancestral families, we borrowed these books from the library and then decided to buy them. They give excellent tips on how to do things at the beginning of researching and for when one becomes more experienced, too. I would recommend them both; they are really useful reference books.

    Submitted by Joy Dean


    The Family Detective by Nick Barratt.

    I noticed a book in the "New Books" section in my local library and couldn't resist borrowing it, just in case it had any tips that might help. But having read about half of it, I just want to say I would not recommend buying it. If you are a complete beginner then there are so many mistakes and omissions in it that it might lead you up the garden path, and if you're not a complete beginner you will just find it annoying. And that's not to mention the numerous spelling and grammatical errors (for instance, section two is heralded by the title "Going Furthur" in very large print!)

    Just a few examples - Nick Barratt suggests that the onus was / is on the bride and groom to go to the register office to make sure their marriage is registered after a church wedding! And in the bit about birth certificates he suggests a few ways of guessing whether somebody was a twin (including, strangely, their name?) but doesn't mention anything about time of birth being given! He doesn't mention that a birth certificate might not have a first name on it at all. Nor that you are allowed six weeks to register a birth, so it might be in the quarter after the one in which it took place. You would think all this was fairly basic information, wouldn't you? And coverage of Scotland is very poor. There is a mention of Scotland's People in the back, but it doesn't explain what is available on it, and if you didn't know better you would be left with the impression that you had to go to Edinburgh to find anything out.

    Nick Barratt does say at the beginning of the book that his qualification is actually in mediaeval English state finance and fiscal history. I thought he must be a qualified genealogist from the fact that he was the expert on the first series of WDYTYA, but it seems not. Seriously, so far I am very disappointed with it. But at least I didn't spend any money on it!

    P.S. Forgot to say that one of the reasons I borrowed it thinking it might be useful was that one of the things shown on the cover was a Certificate of Registry of Birth. Remember a few weeks ago we were finding out all about those, and the difference between one of those and a birth certificate? I thought, wow, if it has one of those on the cover it is going to be really detailed and informative! Not so.


    The Local Historian's Glossary of Words and Terms by Joy Bristow. Publisher Countryside Books, 3rd ed. 2001, reprinted 2005.

    As well as definitions of 3000+ words likely to be found in old records, this includes very useful appendices, including a table of the regnal years of Kings and Queens 1066-1952, a concise history of the English currency, weights and measures and several others.


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