"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, January 15, 2014

Review: Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction in Family Legends

Hite, Richard. Sustainable Genealogy: Separating Fact From Fiction in Family Legends. Genealogical Publishing Co., 2013. 110 pp. ISBN 978-0-8063-1982-7. Paper, $18.95.

Many family historians and professional genealogists first learn about their own families through the stories told by parents and grandparents. Over time and distance, facts are lost and stories take on lives of their own.  Most of us then face a sort of baptism of fiery disbelief as we struggle to learn the truths behind the stories and eventually separate fact from fiction. The same things happened to Richard Hite.

Using his own experiences, Hite sympathetically discusses common errors in family stories and how they possibly evolved as stories were shared and re-shared. He then demonstrates the best research practices to uncover what really happened.  Individual chapters cover some of the more common things that may need verification, like surnames' ethnic origins, relationships and connections to royalty and famous people, and descent from Native Americans. The myths are familiar ones. Hite adds much value to his book by showing how to apply various research tools (such as DNA tests, timelines, and cluster genealogy) to answer questions.

All new--and many experienced--genealogists will benefit from spending some time with Sustainable Genealogy. It is a well-written, thoughtful discussion of how to avoid common pitfalls when presented with undocumented traditions and legends. The sources and techniques he recommends will point you in the right direction and optimize your research results. In his enthusiastic foreword to the book, Henry Z. Jones, Jr., FASG, heartily agrees.

The book is recommended for purchase by avid genealogists and libraries with genealogy collections. It is available through the publisher's website and at various libraries. At this time, an e-Book edition was not found.

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