If you are a regular reader of our blog or newsletter, you probably know that Drew Smith is one of the leading genealogists in the U.S. His day job finds him working as an associate librarian at the University of South Florida Libraries in Tampa. Drew is also co-host, with George G. Morgan, of The Genealogy Guys Podcast, now in its 18th year as the longest-running genealogy podcast in the country. Drew also hosts the Genealogy Connection podcast. He is a founder and administrator of The Genealogy Squad Facebook Group with over 54,000 members. And he writes a regular productivity column for the Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly.
The assortment of skills inherent in Drew Smith’s work and genealogy experience, combined with his passion for good books and his talent for breaking down complex and sometimes technical subjects into clear English, have made him one of the leading genealogy educators in America. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Drew was our choice as the best person to write an excellent new book for genealogy beginners. Let us tell you about it.
The question all beginners in genealogy research ask themselves is, “Where do I begin?” “Should I join a commercial subscription service like Ancestry.com?” What if I don’t find what I’m looking for on the Internet?” “How do I organize the information I’m gathering along the way?” Fortunately, Generation by Generation: A Modern Approach to the Basics of Genealogy answers all those questions and engages neophytes with a book that takes an entirely fresh approach to the subject.
Author Drew Smith has organized the chapters according to the actual process used in genealogical research: Start with yourself, then move on to living family and relatives, and then move backwards in time, generation by generation. Each chapter describes a time period and the kinds of records available for that era, allowing beginners to learn about new types of records just as they need them.
The guide is divided into two parts. Part I (“For All Generations–Preparing to Research”) discusses such things as relationships between family members, naming practices, genealogy software, how to review existing research, and the basics of DNA testing. Part II (“Generation by Generation—Doing the Research”) begins with a discussion of the major genealogy websites, and then explains the most important record categories for all generations from the present day back to the colonial era. There are also chapters devoted to searching for the origins of American families in the records of Canada, Great Britain, Ireland, and non-English-speaking nations.
This book is written in a clear and charming style. It makes ample use of consecutive Internet screen shots to take the mystery out of online searching. And it is written by an expert genealogist and teacher who is equally conversant with traditional search methods and the digital world. There is no other book like it.