on 12 May 2010
I recently borrowed this from my local library not having seen it before. It's easy to read and informative if you're just beginning to delve into your family history. It's split into three main sections. The first section is about tracing your family tree. This covers a wide range of basic subjects, although not in any great depth, as you would expect in a book for beginners. There are plenty of references to relevant websites and guidance on using the various sources that are discussed.
The most useful parts of the book are its second and third sections covering aspects of family history which are often only just mentioned in passing.
Section two deals with tracing your ancestral home and includes information on using maps and plans (such as Ordnance Survey maps, Valuation Office Survey, Tithe Apportionments, 1943 National Farm Survey, Enclosure Maps and Awards, maps and plans for public schemes, such as slum clearance and new towns, plus other private records that are now in the public domain). It also covers house ownership and occupancy, including land law and transferring property from one person to another. It details different types of title deeds and the many records created as a result of conveyancing. All this is very well explained and easy to understand. There are detailed references to many sources and explanations of how to search them for information that is relevant to your own family. Wills, directories, electoral registers and inventories are also included, as is common in many beginner's guides, plus some more interesting and unusual sources for discovering what your ancestor's house might have looked like.
Section three deals with tracing the history of area in which your ancestors lived and gives very brief summaries of changes in rural communities, developments in trade and industry, the military, transport and communication, education and social care. There are references to relevant websites and archives.
There is also advice on creating your own online personal archive for future generations.
I found the second section most interesting as it dealt with subjects I didn't know much about. The book does make very clear how much information is held in the National Archives or is otherwise London based. It's helpful in suggesting how you can make your own family history more interesting by researching little known records, both local and national. There is a list of useful websites, but no bibliography, which is a pity, as I think a lot of beginners would have found this useful. All in all though, quite a good buy for a beginner and even an experienced genealogist could well learn from it.