Book Review: “The Family History Web Directory”

Casemate IPM is at the National Genealogical Society Conference this week in Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and as such I decided that this week’s featured book review should be one of our wonderful genealogical history books from Pen and Sword!

Pen and Sword is the publisher of the Tracing Your Ancestors series, which guides family historians in searching for their ancestors from specific cities, armies, social groups, etc. They also publish more generalized reference works for family historians, and today’s book is one of those.

The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without is a fantastic source for family historians looking to research their ancestors through online sources.

Read the original review from Milner Genealogy here.


Book Review: The Family History Web Directory: The Genealogical Websites You Can’t Do Without by Jonathan Scott

Mr. Scott comes to the task as a freelance writer, former deputy editor of Family History Monthly, and writer, since 2007 of the ‘Best websites’ column for the Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. He is therefore used to finding and evaluating genealogy websites with the depth and breadth of experience clearly showing.

The introduction to the book explains the filing system at work in the book. “Each chapter lists websites broadly in order of importance, interest and usefulness. The idea being that for those just starting their research into a particular branch or topic, this will lead them quickly to the best of most interesting resources. Then in the index at the back all the websites appear again, often more than once, but listed this time alphabetically by title, content or subject.” (p.vii)

The book is divided into five sections. The first section identifies websites for getting started in genealogy addressing the fundamentals such as civil registration, census and parish registers. The second and longest section, entitled digging deeper, takes you into all sorts of record groups: burial records and monumental inscriptions; probate and wills; taxation; election records; crime and punishment; court records; coroner’s inquest; poor law and workhouses; schools; directories; newspapers; migration; overseas research; Wales; Ireland; Scotland; hospitals and medicine; catholic records; Jewish records; nonconformist records; photographs and films; Londoners; maps; estate records; seventeenth and eighteenth century sources; slavery; sports and pastimes. The third section examines websites for military and conflict, addressing each of the services, as well as examining specific conflicts and time periods. The fourth section addresses occupations with nineteen different categories with the last being a catch all for other occupations and apprentices. You will likely find multiple sites here for your occupation of interest. The final section covers miscellaneous sites identifying: resources by region; blogs and forums; house history; medieval ancestors; heraldry; nobility and gentry; sharing research; social networking; plus software and apps.

For each entry it provides a title; address and a brief description if warranted, and often one is needed, which just adds to the value of the listing.

…I found myself marking those sites that I had
never heard of and wanted to go and check out,
or ones that I had not visited in a while and I
wanted
to remind myself to have a fresh look.

While I was reading this book I found myself marking those sites that I had never heard of and wanted to go and check out, or ones that I had not visited in a while and I wanted to remind myself to have a fresh look. All the time I was thinking will this provide something new for my own research? The result was a book with a surprisingly large number of marks of sites I need to check out. I am working through the marks as time allows and finding all sorts of additional information.

…it is a goldmine of leads
for British research.

Most people are unlikely to read this book from cover to cover. Rather it is a tool to aid you in your research. It is one to be dipped into to solve a problem or to specifically look for new websites. In that sense it is a goldmine of leads for British research. I can highly recommend it. Yes, some of the websites will become obsolete, so you can use the wayback machine at archive.org. You will also still need your favorite search engine as new websites will be created. In the meantime, get this book.


9781473837997Jonathan Scott’s Family History Web Directory is an information-packed reference guide that distills the best of the internet into one easy-to-use format. Themed sections cover different topics, from ‘getting started’ to specific occupations, and there is an index reproducing all the websites in A-Z order. His handbook is a vital source for less experienced researchers, and a handy aide-memoire for more seasoned campaigners.
Web addresses are listed by topic, then in order of importance and usefulness. An extraordinary range of sites that will interest family historians is included – from records of births and deaths, tax, crime and religion, to military records and records of work and occupations. Also featured are sites that give information about archives, blogs and forums, social networking and sharing research.
The internet can be an overwhelming place for the genealogist. Jonathan Scott’s book provides readers with online shortcuts, tips for getting the best from well-known websites, plus the details of all kinds of lesser-known and hard-to-find sources.

You can order your copy of The Family History Web Directory here on our website, or through any major bookseller.

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