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Finding Your Roots Paperback – December 28, 1998

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When searching family trees, individuals often can't get past the forest of names and information thrown at them. Now, drawing on her own experiences (and revealing her own mistakes for us to avoid), Westin uses a step-by-step method, complete with sample forms and family questionnaires, to gather information. For anyone interested in checking back even one generation, this book will be devoured--especially once readers see how much fun tracking long-lost relatives can be. Westin is particularly good at cautioning would-be genealogists to research whether someone else has actually checked into family history already, thus saving a lot of duplicate work. In addition, she prints hundreds of sources' addresses and e-mail accounts, and points out which are important for names, military histories, and property records. The largest source for genealogists in the world is at the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, with more than 2.5 billion names. In addition, there are helpful hints on how to write letters to relatives and how to conduct oral interviews. Joe Collins

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 335 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; Rev Exp edition (December 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087477943X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0874779431
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,454,794 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

When I was a child, my family seemed to be steeped in the love of historical lore.

I heard stories of my ancestors, the Dutch ship captain who eloped with a young French woman to settle in New York and Maryland. Another, who fought in the Revolutionary war at Valley Forge...but fortunately for him, in the summer.

My one grandfather told me stories of his Virginia grandfather, a Confederate cavalryman and showed me his sword with a once gilt tassel hanging from the hilt. My other grandfather recited a story of his grandfather who joined the Union army and lost a best friend, who fought for the south. For the rest of their lives, they passed in their little town on the opposite sides of the street and never spoke.

It's clear to me now that I was meant to be a reader and writer of historical novels from a very early age. My mother took me to the library when I was six to get my library card and to choose my first book. The one that most caught my attention was The Little Cave Boy and Girl, the first of a series about children through history. From that beginning, I continued to read historical non-fiction and fiction all my life, always fascinated by every aspect of earlier times. (Don't tell anyone, but I took books on my honeymoon and I can remember my husband's puzzlement when he saw me reading The History of Diseases. "It's interesting," I explained...difficult for a bridegroom to believe. He's since seen me read many similar books without surprise.)

I'm not alone. Most writers I know read curiously and voraciously as children, not realizing we're storing facts and ideas for future use. Sooner or later, some of us become enthralled with a particular historical period. Above all, I love British history and most particularly the Tudor period of the 1500s. Many women are drawn to Elizabethan novels. One of the strongest rulers in history, certainly the greatest queen, Elizabeth was also a woman we want to know and understand. We do know, she loved dancing, parties and handsome, well-dressed men and because of her personal charisma, she fascinated some of the greatest men of her era, even into, what was then, the ancient age of near seventy years.

She held Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester's love and loyalty until the day he died, carrying her own love for him in her heart until her own death. Of all her admirers, her Sweet Robin was most dear to her. Elizabeth was observed many times reading and re-reading his letters, mining the affection in them. Leicester waited for twenty years hoping to marry her before giving up and marrying Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth's hated cousin. She forgave him but banished Lettice, whom she called "that She-Wolf" from her court forever. Though he married, Robin's and Elizabeth's need for each other never ended and she kept him constantly beside her.

Elizabeth was a master at subterfuge, orchestrating many marriage proposals and contracts with the royalty of Europe as a way to keep England safe from attack. Yet, she never submitted to marriage in spite of the pleas of her Council, Parliament and people for an heir. Marriage to her meant sharing, or losing her power to a husband; marriage meant death either from his dissatisfaction (think of her father Henry VIII beheading two wives), or death in childbirth which killed many women. She would have none of it and used her brains and wiles to escape it. It was said of her that "Only her heart fluttered, not her head."

The public history of her reign is well-chronicled and many letters and state documents survive.

The private history is hidden, her personal letters to Sweet Robin destroyed in the English Civil War. We know little of what Elizabeth thought, what was in her heart and how she really felt about the major events and traumas of her life, or how they affected her.

That is where a novelist can help to fill in the gaps with what we know of a woman's responses to life. We can imagine her emotions through the eyes of others, her ladies-in-waiting, for example, as I do in The Virgin's Daughters: In the Court of Elizabeth I, coming in August 2009.

We can also come to know her through her long love and her heart's reaction to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Look for this story in my next novel of Elizabeth and her Sweet Robin, His Last Letter, Elizabeth I and the Earl of Leicester to be published in August 2010.

Elizabeth appears again in my next book The Spymaster's Daughter set in 1585-1588 the years when Sir Francis Walsingham and his network of Intelligencers slowly intercept incriminating coded messages from Mary, Queen of Scots. One of the queen's ladies is Walsingham's daughter, Lady Frances Sidney...who wants to be a spy despite her father's disapproval. Publication date for this book is August, 2012.

Read more about me at my website:

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By NurseMare VINE VOICE on December 7, 2008
Format: Paperback
I'm a beginning genealogist. I have already gathered quite a bit of family information from relatives and was ready to begin going a little further - verifying the information I have and then expanding to older generations. So I got a pile of books from the library (11 of them to be exact). Some were so basic as to be nearly useless. This is one of the books that stood out from the bunch.

First off, it was really fascinating to start reading about the original immigrants to the United States, even before the US was born when our country was referred to only as the New World. From there Westin goes into greater detail with variations of names, origins of names, how to find information from archives, and much more. Though there are not many illustrations, this book uses its pages wisely to entertain and inform.

I enjoyed this book and feel I will use it so much that I am ordering a copy to replace the library book I borrowed. This one is a book for the keeper shelf.
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By Kindle Customer on January 15, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am very interested in researching all sides of my family by blood and also marriage. This book is very helpful and interesting.
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