47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on June 20, 2000
The best review I can give of this book is that it directed me to about 6 Web sites I hadn't heard of which should give me a lot of useful information in researching my family tree. Unlike a lot of Dummies books, this one isn't padded with filler; every page conveys useful information, discussing numerous internet resources and making suggestions for organizing research. The book also contains lengthy sections on African-American, Native American, and Hispanic genealogical Web sites, and apparently has more information on these sites than many other books.
The reasons I didn't rate the book five stars are two-fold: there are dead links in addition to the live ones, and the book was published before the LDS database (maintained by the Mormon Church) was made available online. That suggests that this book is ripe for a 3rd Edition.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2005
This book is for the beginner genealogist. It tells you how to plan your research and what kind of computer equipment to have. It takes you step by step in certain websites. It is extremely boring, even for a genealogy book. I was hoping for more info on what is contained in individual websites, where to find certain types of documents and explantions of software available to the genealogist. It is great if you don't have a clue but if you can navigate the internet on your own, you don't need this book. I will use it occasionally but The Genealogy Sourcebook and The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy are much more in depth.
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2004
Genealogy Online for Dummies is a handy how-to, where-to, what-to, who-to, and why-to book. Matthew L. Helm, one of the authors, is executive vice president and chief technology officer of FamilyToolbox.net, Inc. With a bachelor's degree in history and a master's in library and information science, he created and he maintains the Helm's various genealogy websites. April Leigh Helm, the other author, is the company president. She has degrees in journalism and higher education administration. They are no dummies, and anyone who reads this book will be no dummy about genealogy online.
The book has 16 chapters organized in five major sections, also three appendices, an index, a genealogy Internet directory, and a tear-out "cheat sheet." The text covers in part one doing the groundwork, in part two focusing the online research effort, in part three expanding research online, and in part four using the computer and web to organize and share information. In summary, part five lists ten handy databases, ten things to remember when designing your genealogical website, ten sites that offer help, and ten tips for "smooth sailing."
Throughout the text are addresses of useful websites, research tips, definitions of genealogical terms, step-by-step instructions, and warnings. Examples of warnings are "don't violate any copyright laws by sending large portions of written works through email" (p. 215), and don't post on your website "any information that could land you in the doghouse with any of your relatives - close or distant" (p. 246). The text features sidebar discussions of issues like copyright (p. 250) and privacy (p. 248), and even a "mandatory lecture on privacy" (234). But the tone and message are generally positive: You can do genealogy online. The text explains not only the software, the search engines, the online resources (websites), but also the hardware appropriate for different tasks, and the basics of HyperText Markup Language (html) needed to create a website.
One appendix provides the basics of going online, for anyone not already connected to the Internet. A second appendix defines genealogical terms. The third appendix provides a long list of software available on the CD inserted in the back of the book, mostly demo software for Windows; but the CD itself contains only the demonstration software for Reunion 8, and a very useful list of genealogy-related urls. The index is detailed. At the center of the book is a 30-page genealogy Internet directory, organized into clear categories and fully annotated. The cheat sheet provides instructions for using the Helm's Genealogy Toolbox at [...] as well as the addresses for 14 websites.
The final chapter's "ten tips for genealogical smooth sailing" take the reader back to the big picture: (1) start with what you know, (2) get organized, (3) always get proof, (4) always cite your sources, (5) focus, focus, focus; (6) share your information, (7) join a society or research group, (8) attend a conference or workshop, (9) attend a family reunion, and (10) don't give up. Before the reader gets here, the text has provided clear, detailed guidelines for thoroughly researching, organizing, and presenting genealogical information.
The organization and layout of this 332-page book are great. I found it easy to locate specific information, and I found the information clear enough for the beginner and yet substantive enough for the advanced genealogist. The graphics clearly illustrate the text, and the text is easy to read. The occasional 5th Wave cartoons are appropriate and humorous. I am adding this manual to my desktop reference collection of books that I want within arms reach.
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2004
Pros: Covers lots of topics and is a very valuable source for beginners with great, well written, summaries of many skills and sources needed for doing family history
No real cons. I was a bit surprised, however, not to read more about the incredible land patent database of the former General Land Office offered through the Bureau of Land Management's Eastern State Office. There is no mention that people can actually download from the office's site copies of early land patents of ancestors after discovering how and where they received federal land. Yet, this only points out that one book, though great, cannot cover everything.
I was interested to review this book since I do a lot of genealogical research and wanted to see what more I could learn. I wasn't disappointed. There's plenty to be discovered through the great information supplied by this fine book. Though one of the "For Dummies" series for beginners, there is much here for people who aren't dummies but are advanced in their genealogical studies. The authors have their own website, "Helm's Genealogy Toolbox" at [...] and that is featured as well as other web sites and links.
The book also contains a CD with three items: 1) a trial version of "Family Tree Maker," a popular genealogy database, 2) an evaluation copy of "Homesite 5.5," a popular HTML editor, and 3) a gazetteer designed for genealogists,"World Place Finder." This CD runs on Mac OS system software 7.55 or later, which is useful if you haven't yet stepped up to OS X.
This book is indeed a fine source for all genealogists, covering not only what can be found on the web (an incredible amount), but also great tips for basic "how to do" skills. There is even information in one of three appendixes for the real beginner without many computer skills, such as getting set up with a service provider. The other appendixes include terms and more information on using the CD.
As to its organization, the book begins with the needed first steps about recording easily available information needed to "ground" what you later discover. Progressively you also learn about preserving notes and photos, organizing your records, and many other valuable tips to get started. Later chapters (a total of 16 in the book) continue with planning genealogical research trips and strategies, plus lots of great information about the almost countless sources that have developed on the Web to aid family history buffs. This includes some information even on foreign sources and archives.
The book also covers the increasing availability of various source records, such as census and vital statistics posted on the Web, plus the value of using comprehensive genealogical indexes, surname forums, and the incredible national GenWeb project which coordinates state and county records. And that's only a sample of what this useful book covers! The helpful index allows you to easy find the variety of specific topics in this great "how-to" book,.
Overall, its easy-to-follow style, like other "for Dummies" books, makes this a real winner for both the beginner and advanced genealogist. It is well worth the price.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2003
This is a very helpful book. I have been doing genealogy research for years, and found all of the tips I would give someone who has just started research within its pages. I also found things that I hadn't previously thought of that I was able to use and I accomplished a lot. This is a perfect handbook for those who are interested in using the internet to further their research.
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2001
I've been researching my genealogy on the web for about a year now, and I'd already found everything included in this book. If you're a basic web surfer, and can use a search engine, don't bother with this book. I also found that it was very difficult to reference, and jumbled together both the excellent resource sites, as well as the ones that are pretty much useless. Spend your money on "The Source" it will be worth the extra investment.
21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 1999
I truly enjoyed this book. My daughters been trying to buy it for me for quite some time. Of course that was the previous version...I didn't think I needed it AND then I hit a brick wall. I asked her to get it for me for Mother's Day, sure enough, it helped! Matthew and April, Thanks!!!
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 1998
For some time I've looked for sources that include Native American genealogy. This is by far the best I've found! After going on-line, I began getting information in less that 12 hours! This book is essential in the library of any genealogist.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2013
Really liked this book. Fun to read and is full of good ideas for a beginner of someone researching their family tree for the first time. I really enjoyed reading thru it. But then I like the "Dummies" books :) .
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2009
I purchased this book on line and, when it arrived, the CD that came with it was broken so I have not been able to use much of the information. Getting the CD replaced seems impossible...."you'll have to contact __________ or you need to notify ________."
The information in the book is OK and has been helpful in a couple of cases. Unless you know where you want to check or what you want to accomplish, you'll spend a lot of time looking at sites that are not necessarily going to help you much. Greater breaking down or identifying the recommended sites would be very helpful.
Overall, it's an ok reference.