Friday, September 14, 2012

Review: The Genealogist's Internet, by Peter Christian

We live in an era when genealogy has become much more accessible to the masses, due to fact that so many records are being indexed and digitized, and now are available online - and with more coming available each day. There's a downside to this, of course: It can be overwhelming to know where to start, or where to go next. For those researching in the United Kingdom, though, there is a helpful guide to online resources:  The Genealogist's Internet: The Essential Guide to Researching Your Family History Online, by Peter Christian.  The book was produced by the National Archives, is now in its fifth edition, and is primarily focused on records from that area. It is an excellent resource for anyone researching in that part of the world.

The book is broken into chapters focused on the different types of resources (military, census, church, tax). Each section includes an explanation of the types of records you can expect to find, and how to interpret and use those records. It then explains the various online record repositories broken out geographically, with useful information on the strengths and weaknesses of each collection, as well as cost information where needed. 

Those who are new to UK and Irish research will find this book an invaluable tool. There are explanations of numerous types of records that are unique to the United Kingdom, such as:
  • Civil registrations - when they began, how to locate them, and what may be found in them
  • Records related to England's colonial period, such as those related to transportation of convicts
  • Occupations, including both an explanation of the various terms and where to look for company and trade union records  
  • The unique problems posed by Irish records, such as the anglicization of names
I found the explanations of the different records types to be full of information that would help keep research focused and productive. The section on church information explains why many collections are incomplete or unavailable; however, it also goes into things like church courts - a record type I would never have thought to look for because I never knew such a thing existed. They sound like interesting records, too: matrimonial disputes, and disputes between clergy and parishioners, often about tithes.

The book  also has sections that discuss general difficulties encountered in using technology to conduct genealogical research, such as indexing errors, how to conduct different types of searches (wildcard versus Soundex, etc), and recommendations on how to handle various file types one might wish to download and store. There are even chapters covering internet etiquette and privacy issues. 

Finally, the authors thought ahead: Since  The Genealogist's Internet  provides hundred of web addresses, all of which can change in the blink of an eye, they have created a website of all the links in the book - which will be updated as links change. 

The Genealogist's Internet is much more than a collection of links, though: It is a well-researched,  comprehensive, accessible research aid for anyone who wishes to conduct genealogical research in Great Britain and Ireland. Recommended.

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