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From the Green Valley News, Sunday February 13 2011, page C7

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Reference Book for Beginning Researchers

If you are just beginning your genealogy research, you need a good reference book to instruct and guide you through the maze of genealogical terms and forms. One such book is the recently updated Genealogy, the Internet, and your Genealogy Program by Karen Clifford. (Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore: 2011, $39.95, see

The book is designed as an instructional manual with each chapter a self-contained teaching module. Clifford begins with a discussion of the research cycle and a chapter on "Organizing Family Information," basics for getting started on the right foot. Another section explains the advantages of using a computer program to collect genealogical information and explores differences between programs as well as features that should be part of a good program.

Chapter 4 on documentation is perhaps the most important in the book. If you properly document your sources right from the beginning you are well on your way to becoming a successful researcher. This chapter and the balance of the book will appeal equally to beginners and seasoned researchers.

Printing your family information and placing your ancestor in his own environment will help you as you gather data and explore ways to use it. Resolving Conflict is an important chapter as the further you go the more likely you are to find conflicting information. Whether you are trying to prove a family tradition or discover more than one person with the same name in the same location, you need to recognize conflict and how to resolve it.

Clifford presents a thorough discussion about using courthouses, libraries and other local repositories, often intimidating to the beginner. Her tips will help you to approach these facilities with confidence. Website URLs for obtaining vital records and newspaper archives are helpful for online research. With today's technology it's often possible to obtain records without going to the repository. But the thrill of seeing your ancestor's deed in the same courthouse where he went to file it cannot be duplicated with an online or microfilm record.

She includes an information-packed chapter on the resources of the Family History Library and the major databases of that library. Next she covers using the Family History Center. Our local Center is in Sahuarita at 17699 Camino de las Quintas, telephone 399-1077. It is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. The Center is staffed with volunteers to help you and to answer questions.

The National Archives is also covered with its various genealogical record sets, and an entire chapter is devoted to using U.S. Census Records, one of the most important record sets for family researchers.

Goal setting and sharing your research are topics that end the book. An appendix includes additional useful forms not pictured elsewhere in the book. All of the forms are easily copied for your use.

This book is a comprehensive guide for the beginner and provides a refresher course for more experienced researchers. Illustrations throughout enhance the text and help explain terms and concepts. At the end of each chapter a bibliography suggests other books to help build a genealogical library.

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