So many books, so little time

I am looking forward to some serious daily reading time in March. I figure I ought to be able to budget two hours a day. Among the books in the queue for March and April reading are:

Hilary Marshall. Paleography for Family and Local historians (Chichester, England: Phillimore, 2004) I’m always fascinated by unreadable writing
David Hey. How Our Ancestors Lived, a History of Life a Hundred Years Ago (Kew, England: The National Archives, 2002) Yes, I know I was reading this, but have fallen so far behind it looks like March reading now.

David Hey. The Oxford Guide to Family History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993,2002) This and the previous work by Hey are great for context. Not having lived in England in past centuries, this sort of background reading Hey is famous for, is an excellant source of context for my English ancestry.

W.E. Tate. The Parish Chest. (Chichester, England: Phillimore,2000 reprint edition) Last yearI started doing research on a lecture on the parish chest records for genealogy. I got stalled and its time to get back to that this summer, so I need some more reading– well maybe this will be for May.

One of my students just told me of a newish book on life in the part of Yorkshire my people lived in. So I’ll be digging that up this summer.

Context is so imprtant to becoming an effective researcher. What are you reading?


8 responses to “So many books, so little time

  1. Hi Ken,

    I just bought some genealogy books (on sale!) for me for Christmas and will read them soon –

    Wade Hone, “Land & Property Research in the US”

    William Dollarhide, “Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815”

    Loretta Dennis Szucs, “They Became Americans, Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins”

    I have done quite a bit of land research in New England, but the Hone book should expand my view a bit to the rest of the USA. I don’t have many immigrants who were naturalized (perhaps 2?), but if I am going to be a pro some time this is an area of major interest.

    For pleasure, I tend to read historical novels, political fiction (eg Tom Clancy), political non-fiction (eg Woodward), cop/legal fiction (eg Lescroat, Sandford), etc.

    I finished “Annapolis” by William Martin over the holidays – it’s a multi-generational look at 300 years of US history of Annapolis and the US Navy. I had read “Cape Cod” by Martin several years ago – a similar theme but set in MA. I’m presently reading “Harvard Yard” by Martin which is, surprisingly, about Harvard University – a similar multi-generational theme. In the past, I’ve read Edward Rutherford’s books on “Sarum” (while touring England), “London” and “The Forest.” I also read all of Michener’s books over the years.

    I have more time now that I’ve retired, and read books while watching news, football, baseball, etc. on TV. I try to get in at least 30 minutes a day. Rather than buy them, I check them out of the library.

  2. Randy,
    Another comment and I’ll think of you as a regular contributor! Thanks for sharing. My life is too busy just now for a lot of fiction, though I am on a private mailing list created by a mystery specialist and enjoy reading her picks in spirts when I have a few days off.

    Regarding your genealogy choices, all three are good ones. You might undertake an exercise for me, look for the two other books on naturalization on the market, borrow them through your library (use interlibrary loan if needed) and do a comparison with the one you purchased. It would be interesting.

  3. Ken and Randy:
    I give you guys a lot of credit by setting goals and finding the time to read those great books.

    I just came up with a new thought today while driving three hours across Florida from Tampa to Vero Beach. After hitting many stop lights along the way, I thought “Genealogy is like coming to a FULL stop at a traffic light just as it turned green.”

    Just as I think I have read the best book on a subject another one comes along. Just as I think I have finally got my answer to a question, a new concept is put in front of me.

    I love maps. A very recent book by Melinda Kashuba called “Walking WIth Your Ancestors: A Genealogist’s Guide to Using Maps and Geography.” How many times have we preached to our patrons and students — USE A MAP! So far, I love the book and I already have learned a great deal. Now, I want to read more on the subject.

    I cannot seem to fit into my schedule time to read all the new material that keeps coming our way, especially the many wonderful articles in all the fabulous genealogy magazines! It is like “information overload!” But, I love it and will continue to struggle to read and read and read…when I can.


  4. Pam,
    Thanks for the comment. Delighted to have you join the readers of Genealogy Education. I hope you become a regular.
    You’ve found another book to add to my list of things to read. Fortunately, there still is April for reading and spring cleaning.

    Your comments are always welcome.


  5. Ken,

    Are the other two naturalization books you mentioned (after a Google search):

    1) American Naturalization Records, 1790-1990, by John J. Newman,

    2) Guide to Naturalization Records in the United States by Christina K. Schaefer.

    Unfortunately, I haven’t started reading the one I have by Szucs yet! I hope to by March or April, though, but I have a grandson coming in February so will be away from home some in February and early March.

    I do hope to be a regular contributor to your blog, at least with comments and responses to questions. Your blog is different from the others in that you are focussing on education, which I really appreciate. And you ask questions that invite critical thinking, and a response, instead of just telling us something.

    Do you have any recommendations for step-by-step guides for using genealogy web sites? Many in our local society are afraid of, or don’t know how to use, the web, and I’m trying to create one or two page guides to help them be more proficient on rootsweb, usgenweb, message boards, mailing lists, and the like.

    Cheers — Randy

  6. Thanks for the kind words about the blog. I confess the things you like are a product of having to moderate discussions!

    Yup, those sound like two good ones to compare to the one you bought: the John Newman and the Christina Schaefer. It really amazed me to find three or was it four books on US naturalization on the market within a year or two of each other.

    Perhaps other readers can recommend the sort of guides for using genealogical web sites. What form are you looking for? I can suggest a video series by
    Check out their site at

    Perhaps other readers can suggest some guides for using these resources?

    I would not be surprised if libraries like Allen County Public Library and the Family History Library had created inhouse guides. Give them a call.

    And if you can get to NGS in Chicago, or FGS in Boston, I’ll bet you’ll find that there are several such lectures on the program– and the folks involved with those databases will be in the vendors area.

    Oh, have you tried GenSmart?

  7. Ken,

    I downloaded the trial version of GenSmart back when it first appeared. I checked it out, but found that it told me pretty much what I already knew.

    Many in my audience here have limited computer skills – they can get their email but finding data at Rootsweb, FamilySearch, a message board or subscribing to a mailing list are beyond them. My goal is to get them to the point that they will try it using a step-by-step list of “use this URL, click this link, insert info there, check out this name, etc.” The pages I’m preparing will have this list with set search parameters, then they will do an exercise with their own search parameters, and finally I have some notes for further study. I’m going to see if this is helpful to them before I write up many more (I’ve done 3 so far, using WorldConnect, using FamilySearch IGI, and using Google for genealogy). If they like it, I’ll go on with message boards, mailing list archives, Family Finder, etc. If necessary, I’ll insert graphics of screen shots with arrows showing where to insert information.

    There is so much good info on the web (I know, there is bad data too) that it is a pity they aren’t using it. My other frustration is that very few of my group ever goes to the FHC, which is really too bad. Heck, I go almost every week. We run carpool trips for the group every three months to the San Diego FHC (only 13 miles but some can’t drive the freeways) and they are amazed at the books, CD’s, films, etc., plus free access to Ancestry (which is my carrot for them, usually).

    I probably won’t get to FGS or NGS this year, but hope to go to the Jamboree in Pasadena CA in May. We have a yearly Family History Fair in Escondido now, which is cheap and good.

    Regards — Randy

  8. i have 2 refridgerators!

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