on 4 December 2013
Having read this book some time ago, I was shocked to read the very harsh review by Jude and would wish to say in mitigation that the book, as I understand it, is not meant to be a comprehensive treatise on any of the many topics it touches upon. More particularly, the book is certainly not about photography or its history. As is made abundantly clear on page 9, 'There are a number of things that this book doesn't do. ... It does not offer a comprehensive history of photography." It suggests to me that Jude has missed the point of the book in focusing on aspects relating to his / her specialism. Readers may care to reflect on the generally laudatory reviews this and other works by the author receive.
on 4 January 2014
I bought this less to research my family via photos and artefacts (though now it strikes me that I have some and should!) than to pick up interesting tit-bits about domestic and social history. I write historical fiction and need a supply of new information about the way people lived. This volume contains a wealth - what height people were in different parts of the UK a century ago; what flowers the Victorians favoured as a marker for each month or each social celebration; when an aristocrats might have got a tattoo. I also own Ruth Symes' previous work on family history, and like that one, 'It Runs in the Family' is engagingly written but scholarly. Nice 'further reading' too.
on 19 October 2014
A most unusual book, it is the very details which you need to know about hair, teeth etc.
Why did our ancestors not smile, why did they have certain hair styles?. This is like a "forensic" book, you look at a photograph and pick up on some detail and it solves a family mystery!.
on 26 December 2015
What a pity this nicely written book on what ought to be a fascinating topic is full of historical errors. As a trained and experienced photographic historian, I was horrified by some of the generalisations made about photography and to see that several of the photographs used to illustrate the text were dated incorrectly not just by a few years, but 15-20 years in at least 3 cases. Some comments, for example concerning post mortem photographs, are wildly incorrect - nonsensical, in fact. In such a book accuracy is paramount - indeed accuracy should take first place in any published source that is to be read by others - but especially in a title such as this that aims to inform and aid researchers and purports to be an expert guide.
Such blatantly sloppy research and inexperience/lack of sound knowledge of the subjects covered is not only unhelpful and misleading, but, sadly, it undermines the hard work and expertise of other professionals working the family history arena, supporting the widely-held notion among academic historians that family history is for amateurs - not so, though reading this book, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. I am very disappointed in this book, which was a well-meant Christmas present. I am also surprised that a reputable publisher such as The History Press has released such a poor title. More books need careful editing and peer reviews before going to print.