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

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Genealogy at a Glance: Virginia Genealogy Research by Carol McGinnis.

McGinnis, Carol. Virginia Genealogy Research. Genealogy at a Glance series. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2012. 4pp. ISBN 978-0-8063-1896-7. $8.95.

It must be impossible to read any blog, attend a meeting, or visit your favorite genealogy bookseller without stumbling across one of the recent spate of laminated, 4-page pamphlets designed to fill you in on any number of genealogical research subjects. While they're not comprehensive, they will jumpstart your research and point you in the right direction.

And, frankly, I find them quite appealing with their spillproof formats and implied promises of instant information gratification. Some are simple lists of sources and websites. The better ones are written by experts who provide relevant background (such as history and timelines), discuss what you can expect from the recommended resources, and give you location or access details.

Carol McGinnis' Virginia Genealogy Research is definitely one of the better ones. She provides a concise introduction to Virginia's origins and history then demonstrates how events affected the types and amount of records available. Despite its brief length, McGinnis succeeds in packing key information, especially about Virginia's stellar online collections, into her publication, If you're new to Virginia research, you will get a solid introduction about reliable sources you should check first. For more experienced researchers, you will recognize some old friends, be reminded of others, and surprised that some of them have moved off library shelves to websites. Here's a list of records and resources she covers:
  • Overview of Virginia's beginnings and settlers
  • Descriptions of vital, land, military, probate, census, and church records
  • Significant published indexes and journals
  • Major repositories
  • Free online resources
A lot of useful, current information is packed into these 4 pages. In addition to treating the above topics, McGinnis includes tips and pointers to helpful sources for further research. It's important to note that her focus is mostly on state-level resources. When you're ready to dig deep into resources held by individual counties, you can't go wrong with another title by McGinnis--her outstanding Virginia Genealogy: Sources & Resources (1993).

Genealogical.com  claims each publication in its Genealogy at a Glance series is "a four-page distillation of the key ingredients in a given area of genealogical research." With Virginia Genealogy Research, both the author and the publisher have met this goal. The title is available from the publisher and Amazon. A few libraries across the U.S own this title so don't forget to check the one near you.