Book Review: The United States in 1800

I recommend reading, The United States in 1800, by Henry Adams.  It is amazing to read how difficult it was to move around in New England.  This includes people and commerce.  I was surprised to learn that the stage-coach was invented back there.  I thought it was invented out west!
Bette Thatcher, IST
Sacramento, California

Thanks Bette! I did a quick search for that title and found that it is available online through the American Studies at the University of Virginia website. If you have a genealogy or history related book or movie that you’d like to recommend, you can send it to and I’ll post it here on the blog.


Cite Your Sources Right! A Book Review, by George G. Morgan

Evidence Explained.bmpThe long-awaited official release of Elizabeth Shown Mills’s new book, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, published by Genealogical Publishing Co., occurred at the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ 2008 Conference in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, in August. And what a great book it is! It doesn’t replace her previous book, Evidence! which remains an excellent reference for a large number of source materials. Nor does it replace the laminated QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources Evidence! Style, published in 2005. Instead, it takes source citations to the most current of levels and includes a wonderful collection of source materials and definitive citation examples.

The book boasts more than 1,000 examples, weighs in at 2 lbs. 4 oz., is 885 pages long (including the indexes), and retails for $49.95. While not intended to be read cover to cover, I will tell you that, as a genealogist concerned with performing and documenting research in a scholarly way, this is a must-have book for your personal reference library. Don’t skip the foreword, which is a short and concise statement of why we should all be interested in citations. Continue reading

Your Quick Tips, 02 July 2007

Check Previous and Following Pages
When searching census records, be sure to look at previous and following pages. There may be a parent, sibling, or child who lived across the street from the ancestor you are researching. But if census taker went down one side of the street and back up the other side, someone who actually lived across the street would show up on a different page.

Alice Holtin
Henderson, TN

More Good Books
Loved the bit about the inspiring books! In writing my book about my Smith family, I’m constantly in search of good social histories of various areas where the family settled.

Some of my favorites include:

  • There Stands Old Rock, by Thomas Walterman (About Civil War soldiers from Rock County, Wisconsin; we had two in our family.) 
  • Burdett Prairie Trails, ed. Jean Clark, Marie Dillenbeck, and Merle Thacker. Burdett History Book Committee (A history of Burdett, Alberta, Canada)
  • Landmarks of Tompkins County, by John Selkreg (Tompkins County, N.Y.)

You can’t write about what you don’t know. I read these books to help me learn more about the places and their characteristics. Then I visit the location, and read the book again with a fresh eye. Once I’ve made the trip I can see the descriptions perfectly based on my own experiences.

Laini Giles Continue reading

Your Quick Tips, 25 June 2007

books_edited-1.bmpInspiring Books
While doing research into various family members I found three books that inspired me. The first was Grace Hooper’s Pioneer Notes: By Trek and Sail to Grand Traverse Bay, by Beulah Hooper-King (Fen’s Rim Publications, Inc., 1993). It depicts life in northern Michigan’s lower peninsula and mentions several of my family members. 

The next book was Tales from the Great Lakes: Based on C.H.J. Snider’s “Schooner Days,” by Cindy Hollenberg Snider (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1995), which covers the early Schooner Days on the Great Lakes.

The final book was Booze, Boats, and Billions, by C.W. Hunt (McClelland and Stewart, 1989), which is about rum running during the prohibition era on the lakes. Several family members were mentioned in both of those books; they also gave me a lead on the book Whiskey and Ice: The Saga of Ben Kerr, Canada’s Most Daring Rumrunner, by C.W. Hunt (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 1995), which may contain additional family information.

Basil Moore Continue reading

New Mayflower Book for Middle-Schoolers: The Ghost in Allie’s Pool

Ghost in Allies Pool.jpgI received the following press release from Sari Bodi regarding her book, which is set for publication in May. Since there is a genealogical tie, I’m filing this in our Book and Movie Club and am looking forward to reading a copy with my daughter. I think the contemporary setting and historical aspects will capture her interest, and I’m always looking for ways to sneak in a history lesson. 😉 

A Mayflower Passenger is Catapulted into the 21st Century and Allie’s World

The Ghost in Allie’s Pool
A Young Adult Novel by Sari Bodi

“Just wait until you meet Allie and her mysterious friend in this imaginative, satisfying story. Heart stopping and unusual, I couldn’t put it down. You won’t be able to either.”

-Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor Book author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

The Ghost in Allie’s Pool expertly weaves Allie’s struggles in navigating eighth-grade social life, with the true story of Dorothy May Bradford, who in 1620 sailed on the Mayflower with her husband, William, future governor of the Plymouth colony. The themes of family history, friendship, and an exploration of the harrowing Mayflower voyage, as seen from a teen’s point of view, add extra layers to this young adult novel for readers 10 and up. Continue reading

The Book Quest Continues, by Megan Smolenyak

Wow!  Who knew there were so many terrific books out there with a genealogical theme?  A thousand thank you’s to all of you who posted recommendations or emailed me with suggestions after my last article (!  Looks as if I have a homework assignment that could last for life!

I haven’t yet had a chance to go on one of my book-buying binges with the shopping list you all contributed (don’t worry – I’m going to “force” myself to snag some soon!), so I hope you can tolerate another article with a couple of books from my current stash.  Once again, I’ve decided on a pair of non-fiction books with something of a genealogical theme. Continue reading

Ancestry’s Start a Tree Sweepstakes

Ireland landscapeStart your family tree online and you’ll be entered for a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to your ancestral homeland. Just for entering, you’ll also receive three days of unlimited FREE access to, the world’s largest online collection of family history information. Click here to get started.

Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors: A New Book by Patricia Law Hatcher

Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors Ancestry is pleased to announce a new publication from Patricia Law Hatcher, FASG.  Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors leads genealogists past the American Revolution to the time when their ancestors were English citizens, blazing the way in the new territory. Pat provides a rich description of the world in which those ancestors lived and details the records they have left behind. Researching Your Colonial New England Ancestors teaches family historians how to have a colonial mindset, provides them with a wealth of resources to use, and sets them on the path to the colonial American world.

This book is intended as an introduction to doing genealogical research of people who lived in colonial New England. It assumes that the researcher has arrived in the colonial period through sound genealogical research and that he or she is familiar with basic records, repositories, and research techniques.

The settlement of New England, its religious and political controversies, its wars, and its relationship with the native populations have been discussed in hundreds of books and articles, some of which are indicated in the Resources section. The Background section presents an overview of those topics and provides an historical framework oriented toward genealogists.

The researcher will encounter a myriad of nonstandard records and sources in colonial research. Especially during the early colonial period, understanding the history and background, which define the environment in which records were created, are often more important than a reference catalog of records.

This book is currently available in the Ancestry Store.

Genealogical Books in Disguise, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Over the last few months, I’ve been on another of my book binges – helplessly buying and reading countless books of a genealogical nature. I reported some of my reactions in Curl Up With a Genealogical Mystery and in Genealogical Cozies. Many of you were kind enough to share your remarks as well, so now I’m at it again.

Genealogical Non-Genealogy Books
Over the years, I’ve written a fair bit about actual genealogy books, mostly of a how-to nature. But this binge is different. I’m on a quest to find books that aren’t overtly genealogical, but that feature stories and themes that resonate with roots-seekers.

The good news is that there are a lot more books of this sort out there than I expected. Perhaps I was blind to them before, but I’m delighted to find so many that appeal in different ways. Recently, I’ve covered several genealogical cozies (lighthearted mysteries, for those who are new to the world of cozies), but for a change of pace, I thought I’d tackle a couple of non-fiction books. Continue reading

Genealogical Cozies, by Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak

Megan's websiteBack in May, I wrote about a genealogical mystery I had read.  I hadn’t even realized that this genre was out there, so I committed myself to finding and devouring more such books.  Now it’s time to report back on a couple.  But first, I’d like to take a brief detour for a definition.

What’s a Cozy?
Once again, I find it necessary to confess my ignorance.  Until I went on this recent reading binge, I didn’t know what a cozy was.  But time and time again, as I read reviews, I kept seeing the word “cozy.”  On the off-chance that some of you might share this same knowledge gap, I thought it might be helpful to explain.

According to mystery-writer Stephen D. Rogers, “A cozy is a mystery which includes a bloodless crime and contains very little violence, sex, or coarse language.  By the end of the story, the criminal is punished and order is restored to the community.”

Ah, OK.  Well, that certainly fits.  If you venture into the world of genealogical mysteries, you’ll find that they’re almost all cozies — pleasant reads that you can absorb in one couch-lounging session.  Of course, I can’t promise that the genealogist in you won’t be frustrated by the detective’s choice of tactic (thoughts such as, “Don’t waste your time doing that — the answer you need is in the cemetery!” frequently crossed my mind), but overall, these are relaxing escapes. Continue reading