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93 people found this helpful
Good resource for early American genealogy
on April 20, 2012
This is a comprehensive guide to tackling difficult problems in genealogy research, and gives very specific examples and suggestions for tactics to use when confronted with the inevitable "brick walls". I was impressed by the level of detail and the intelligent commentary. However, be aware that the focus of this book is entirely on early American genealogy, specifically mid-19th century and earlier. If your family immigrated to the US in the 1880s or later, the specific issues will not be of much help.
Even so, there are some valuable insights for everyone:
1) Census records have notoriously bad spelling and transposed letters, sometimes in the census record itself, other times introduced in the indexing. Because census searches do not allow for "soundex" or phonetic search, researchers should search by many alternate spellings.
2) Cluster genealogy is an important concept to keep in mind. That is, don't only focus on your direct family members, but consider the wider family unit, friends and neighbors.
There is an excellent table "Common errors found in genealogical evidence" that rates the likely accuracy of various genealogy sources. The least reliable, rated "Poor", are oral family traditions, folklore and stories, and past news features (when the even was long before). There is a brief DNA chapter at the end of the book, which appears to have been included as an afterthought.