Most helpful critical review
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Far from this author's best work
on July 22, 2002
Despite the fact that half of everyone's ancestors are women, they traditionally have received short shrift from genealogists. Married women frequently appear on family group sheets as "Elizabeth Blank," teenage daughters are lost track of between censuses if their new husbands' names are unknown, and even the most dedicated family man was apt to leave everything in his will simply to "my wife." (Those of Acadian or Quaker descent are fortunate that religious records usually provide a wife?s maiden name.) Carmack is a well-known author and lecturer and one opens this book with high hopes that she will describe new techniques that will enable one to knock down some of those brick walls. Unfortunately, even the moderately experienced researcher is likely to be disappointed. While the first four chapters are filled with good advice on valuable resources, nearly all of them are equally applicable to researching both men and women: passenger lists, city directories, probate records, interviewing aging relatives, etc. Chapter Five is devoted to writing about women in a family history, and Chapter Six is a brief case study of one of the author's own female ancestors -- but again, the methods described would work just as well for a great-great-grandfather as for his wife. (What does one do to identify a wife who dies before the 1850 census, leaving a dirt-farmer husband unable to read or write, who remarries and leaves his worldly goods to his second wife? I have more than one like that!) Carmack is a specialist in social and ethnic history, which can be very useful in fleshing out one's family research -- but in that case, the title is a bit misleading. She provides full citations for all of her many examples, of course, as well as a 24-page *selected* bibliography -- which may be the most useful part of the book.