18 January 2013

Book Review: The Genealogist's Internet

Title: The Genealogist's Internet: The Essential Guide to Researching Your Family History Online
Author: Peter Christian
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Edition: 5th (2012)
Pages: 448
ISBN: 9781408159576
Dimensions: 6" x 9 1/4"
RRP: $23.95
Amazon.ca Price: $16.21

If you're known by the company you keep the appearance of The National Archives logo and a quote from the Society of Genealogists on the front cover are adequate hints to the quality to this book. Having made it to a fifth edition it's hardly surprising this is the most popular book for online genealogy research on UK Amazon site.
This is a reference book with focus on the British Isles, England and Wales first and foremost with is good coverage of Scotland and Ireland, both the North and the Republic. The Isle of Man and Channel Islands are not forgotten. There is brief mention of other English-speaking countries. Australia is mentioned on 11 pages, USA on 9, Canada on 5, New Zealand on 4.
The coverage is comprehensive including discussion of all the traditional online sources plus photographs, search engines, social networks, blogs, publishing your information, and much more. See the table of content below. In the section on newspapers, an area to which I pay some attention, I found a couple of resources new to me.
I particularly liked the discussion on indexing, what is realistic to expect and how public institutions can best work with commercial entities to make resources more available without creating an unfortunate continuing monopoly as exists with Scotland's People.
Internet resources come online rapidly. Page 349 has a table showing a Google search for genealogy gave 240 million hits in October 2011. In January 2013 that number is 312 million. Web sites also sometimes disappear or transform almost as fast. This all means reference books date quickly, why printed encyclopedias have gone the way of the dodo and moved online. To deal with this there's a companion website providing all the book's links updated periodically, most recently in November.
The book is well illustrated with monochrome images of web pages and extracts from results on about one in four pages.
There is a short section on DNA focusing on surnames, but alas no mention of autosomal DNA testing.

1. Introduction
2. First Steps
3. Online Starting Points
4. Using Online Sources
5. Civil registration
6. Census
7. Church Records
8. Property, Taxation and the Law
9. Occupations
10. The Armed Forces
11. Migration and Colonies
12. Print Sources
13. Archives and Libraries
14. Surnames, Pedigrees and Families
15. Geography
16. History
17. Photographs
18. Discussion Forums
19. Search Engines
20. Publishing Your Family History Online
21. The World of Family History
22. Issues for Online Genealogists
Internet Glossary


James said...

Web sites also sometimes disappear or transform almost as fast

True. But those in the know use the Internet Wayback machine to locate older versions.

JDR said...

James: The book does mention the Wayback Machine, including in the preface and on nine other pages.