The Genealogist's Handbook takes its users beyond the straight facts of who their ancestors were and when and where they lived to the sources and skills needed to comprehend what those lives were like and how they influenced their own and future generations. The author describes himself as "historian, librarian, genealogist" in that order and his work as "not simply a handbook on genealogical and family history research methods . . . but a guide to discovering as much as resources can reveal about who the ancestors were and how they lived." Wright's nearly 20 years' experience at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, his subsequent service on the American Library Association's Genealogy Committee, and his teaching of family history, genealogy, and paleography at Brigham Young University make him well qualified to prepare this guide, which can be used either as a textbook or as a reference tool.
Beginning with a chapter that compares genealogy and family history, the book progresses logically through basic methodology (group records and pedigree charts, etc.), advice on evaluating sources and tools (including computer programs), locating records (family, neighborhood, town, state, country), learning about ethnic origins, and writing a family history. Sample charts and examples from records illustrate many chapters. The bibliography includes solid classics as well as publications as recent as 1994. The index seems thorough and includes cross-references. The author acknowledges that the appendixes are not exhaustive: "Genealogical Research Centers" covers selected sources in the U.S. and Canada, while "Ethnic and Immigration Research Centers" lists centers in 20 states and 5 foreign countries.
All of this information can be found in other good genealogical sourcebooks, and true beginners will probably still want to start with Angus Baxter's how-to books. But what makes this one special--and working with its practitioners a joy--is its emphasis on fleshing out the images of the ancestors identified and on comprehending how their existence influenced present lives.