"Beyond the age of information is the age of choices." Charles Eames. Hartman, Carla and Eames Demetrios. 100 Quotes by Charles Eames, p. 40.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: History for Genealogists by Judy Jacobson

Jacobson, Judy. History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors. Clearfield Company. 2009. ISBN 978-0-8063-5439-2. $33.00.

Education and experience teach many genealogy researchers to develop historical and social contexts when developing profiles of their ancestors. Knowing what went on in their worlds during their lifetimes provides insights into how and why our ancestors made certain decisions. In this book, prolific author Jacobson promotes timelines as essential tools to help researchers develop those contexts.

The author touches on the how-to of creating timelines and discovering relevant sources, but the real stars of this book are the many, many timelines. You will find detailed timelines for many topics, including international migrations, wars, disasters, politics, and economics. Key events for countries and regions throughout the world, and, my favorite, each U. S. state, are listed. All of these can be valuable starting points for your research.

Despite the value of the timelines, more information about how to create a relevant timeline and apply it to your ancestor's life would have been very useful. Readers looking for history lessons will also be disappointed, although the extensive bibliography will provide some direction. And, why weren't there more examples of the many available free online resources, such as links for timelines in Cyndi's List which were available when the book was written?

This paperback book is an optional--and somewhat pricey--purchase for most genealogists and library collections. No eBook edition located. It is widely available for sale online at websites like genealogical.com and amazon.com (which is where I purchased the copy to review). Outside of libraries with strong genealogy collections, few public libraries in the U.S. own this title, so it's a good candidate for inter-library loan.