Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Review: Family History Detective by Desmond Walls Allen
Allen, Desmond Walls. Family History Detective: a Step-By-Step Guide to Investigating Your Family History. Family Tree. 2011. 143p. ISBN 9781440306876. $9.34 (Kindle), $16.99 (paperback).
Family History Detective updates author Desmond Walls Allen's First Steps in Genealogy: a Beginner's Guide to Researching Your Family History (Betterway Books, 1998), by expanding recommendations to incorporate online resources and search techniques in genealogical research. The book emphasizes the importance of starting with what you know--gathering family stories, interviewing relatives, asking questions, documenting sources, etc. What makes Allen's advice shine, however, are her recommendations to develop critical evaluation skills and to learn about our ancestors' worlds. In her words, "Genealogy isn't just about collecting information; it's about analyzing and evaluating what you find."
Much of the new edition, however, retains its 1998 feel with the same text, research anecdotes, and recommendations for other books. Lackluster appendices cover 29 citation examples, 3 forms, plus a topical list of vendors, titles and other resources mentioned throughout the book. Indexing was good and will be a plus for the paperback format, but rather superfluous in a searchable eBook. Overall, this new edition is a solid, well-written introduction to genealogical research that will help newbie researchers develop good research habits. If you're just starting your own family history research or teach beginning genealogy classes, Family History Detective would be a useful resource for your personal library.
Disclosure: Purchased Family History Detective in the Kindle eBook format to review. Borrowed a copy of First Steps in Genealogy from my local library. Read both from start to finish.
Availability: Widely available from many publishers and various online bookstores for both the paperback and eBook formats.