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From the Green Valley News, Sunday November 7 2010, page C5

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Beginning Your Genealogical Research

In order to be effective, beginning researchers need to get started on the right track. I recently received a review copy of the newly revised 4th edition of Emily Croom's basic genealogy how-to book, Unpuzzling Your Past published by Genealogical Publishing Company, available at for $34.95.

Beginners and even not-so-beginners will find this comprehensive guide useful. Croom's chatty writing style is easy to understand as she uses examples and illustrations to show the reader how to pursue his/her family history and achieve positive results.

Croom emphasizes the basic truth of genealogy, start with what you know and work back a generation at a time. Particularly strong are her chapters on interviewing family members and using family memorabilia to help get research off the ground.

She walks through each step in the research process with appropriate tips and warnings to avoid common pitfalls, such as "same name, same place, must be the same person." Throughout the text she uses icons to highlight important points and make the information easy to locate when needed.

This edition includes a case study that guides the reader through each step necessary to solve an actual research problem. Several Appendices include forms and charts that may be photocopied for readers' use as well as an excellent bibliography for further reading. Be sure to review the "Important Post-2001 Changes" listed by page number opposite the Title Page to make updating text easier.

Although originally published in 2001, the information is still relevant today - sound genealogical practices never vary. I am disappointed, however, that format of the source information was not updated to reflect today's standards as presented in Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills in 2007 and also published by Genealogical Publishing Company.

For a more scholarly approach, see The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition, by Val D. Greenwood (Genealogical Publishing, $29.95.) First published in1973 this is a classic and the text of choice in colleges and universities teaching American genealogy.

The 3rd revision includes a new chapter on the relationship between computer technology (Internet and CDs) and the timeless principles of good genealogical research, another on property rights of women, and a revised chapter on evaluation of genealogical evidence. With both of these books priced within the budget of most beginners, be wise and start your research on a sound foundation. You will save yourself time and money in the long run.

I know someone out there is thinking, why bother with books when it's all on the Internet today? Well, it's not all on the Internet and likely never will be. Once resources on the Internet are exhausted, it's important to know what to do next, where to go to do it, and what to do with it when it's found. Every genealogist should have a few good reference books at his fingertips to keep the creative juices flowing. When you need an answer at in the middle of the night, it won't help to have the book available on a shelf at the public library.

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned researcher, you will find something of interest at the fifth Genealogy Fair sponsored by the Green Valley Genealogical Society on Saturday, November 20, 2010, at the LDS Church, 17699 S Camino de las Quintas, Sahuarita, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Come and see family history in action. Society members will display the fruits of their research, demonstrate, and give a variety of classes including beginning genealogy and how to find information on the internet to add interest to your family stories. The Genealogy Fair is free and open to the public.

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