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The Sleuth Book for Genealogists Paperback – September 1, 2000

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Betterway Books (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558705325
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558705326
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 8.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,317,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Veteran genealogy author Croom has done it again. She's produced a "strategy" book for genealogy detective work that is a sure-fire winner for beginning searchers, a delight for mystery lovers, and a valuable learning tool for advanced genealogists.
She sustains the detective theme throughout with quotes from both familiar and famous literary sleuths ranging from Sherlock and Hercule to Mark Twain and Margaret Truman. Best of all, her quotes are not simply window-dressing to begin or end a section, but are carefully woven into her discussion of various topics. Furthermore, her bibliography not only contains a remarkably up-to-date genealogy list, but also the sources of her "detective" quotes and further reading about detective work.
Genealogy is detective work, and Croom makes it fun. Her carefully planned strategies are solid research techniques which all family historians would benefit from implementing.
A glance at the table of contents reveals the wealth of solid information about the research process: defining the problem, developing a plan, broadening the scope, documenting research, gathering information, examining the evidence, arranging ideas in progress reports, completing the project. Additional chapters are devoted to three model searches including one for finding slave ancestors and another for tracing a female line.
The appendices alone are worth the price of the book, Appendix B is an excellent guide to documentation style which incorporates the guidelines of the best available, and current citation information from the MLA Handbook, the Chicago Manual of Style, Elizabeth Mills' Evidence, and Lackey's Cite Your Sources.
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1 Comment 96 of 98 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Excuse me while I gush, but if I could give this book 6 stars, I would. Why? There are so few intermediate genealogy instruction books out there. Most books are of either the reference variety or of the beginner variety, even if they are broken down into specialty topics. How many times do publishers think we need to see the same old information? Apparently a lot. However, we do have this gem.
This book mainly introduces the concept of cluster genealogy and shows you several plans of attack as well as case studies. Cluster genealogy, being the approach that you focus on non direct family members of your ancestors as well as direct so that you can fill gaps and find pieces of information that lead you to new ancestor discoveries or provide much needed context to family relationships.
Although the author does accept that you the reader has a basic knowledge of genealogy already, she does start her case studies from the beginning of a genealogical problem, gives you a research outline and follows through. In the end, she gives you the ability and power to apply logic properly toward methodical family research.
She covers a large amount of kinds of records as well as introducing skills in breaking down the facts from them so that they can be applied to research. There are very few genealogical books that once you have acquired information asks "what does this mean?"
Too many genealogy books act as if genealogy is a tidy, pat thing. Sometimes it may be, but mostly it is not. Everytime you find a new piece of information you will have a question about it. Following up on these questions is how you make discoveries.
This book does not cover online genealogical databases. It covers how to apply original source material only.
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Comment 23 of 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Emily Anne Croom is an undisputed expert in the field of genealogy but this book is for intermediate to advanced researchers. Based on the premise that you will encounter brick walls in uncovering your ancestors, Croom attempts to give you ideas and strategies using proven techniques. She assumes you have read the basic books (including her own).
Another unfortunate assumption is that she tailors her book for genealogists who are not utilizing one of the numerous software databases and therefore much of her text is spent with helpful hints about organizing your group family sheets and documents. I actually found the numerous "sleuth" quotes from Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie to be very distracting (and I'm a huge mystery fan at that!). Final thought, a good book for the non-computer using, intermediate genealogist.
Comment 32 of 34 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has really great information on how to break through those "brick wall" genealogy problems. It's already proved useful to me after owning it a short time. Really invaluable, five-star rating stuff.

Unfortunately, I also think that this book suffers from overkilling the "sleuth" theme, and this is why my rating is only 3 stars. The frequent quotations from fictional detectives are really quite a distraction. My first inclination is to skip past them, but often the author actually uses them to make a point. You then have to interpret the quote of a fictional character when it would be much more straightforward if the author would make a simple declarative statement making the point she's trying to convey.

Before I purchased the book, I saw another reviewer mention that the detective quotes were a distraction. I didn't quite grasp the magnitude of the distraction, though. Some pages have six (or more?) different quotations on them, all assiduously footnoted. The author makes a point early in the book about the importantance of reading the footnotes, but most of them are noting fictional detective quotes! In my frustration, I started counting all the sleuth quotes in one chapter and finally gave up somewhere around 30.

I've learned a lot from Emily Croom's books and I recommend them. But I have to say that sleuth theme was major overkill in this book, and I hope it can be toned down in a future edition, because this book has too much good information to be buried in a metaphor!
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