If it is to have meaning, family history cannot be separated from the nation's history and culture. Therefore, to give our family history perspective as well as interest, we must eventually try to put the family into the society and culture in which it lived and worked (second edition, p. 5).That belief coincides with my own. To know a name and a date is important but to know an ancestor it's important to learn more about her (or him) and place her in her environment. I want to know my ancestors, as much as it is possible while I'm here and they're there.
I think Unpuzzling gave me a good introduction and overview of how to begin searching for my ancestors. It moves from home sources outward to local sources then national sources and answers questions beginners have. It gives just enough information for a good start, but not so much as to overwhelm a beginner. The transcription forms in the back were the first I'd ever seen. From them I learned what information I'd find for each census year. She has other forms which have been helpful to me, too.
Another excellent how-to book is Elizabeth Shown Mills's Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. It's good as a how-to book for citing sources but it's helpful in another way, too: browse through it and see suggestions about where else you can look for your ancestor. This is a book that every genealogist and family historian (professional or amateur) should be able to access, either at a public library or in one's own possession.
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This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. I invite you to participate if you'd like.
This week's theme was How-To Book. For which genealogy how-to book are you most thankful? Who wrote the book and why does it stand out in your eyes? Is the book currently available? How can other genealogists benefit from its content?