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on 20 April 2009
I couldn't do without this book. I started researching my family tree over 2 years ago and found that there were things I didn't understand, information I needed but didn't know how to get and this book points you in all the right directions. It also details what certain occupations were about and their importance and has a few links to the programme - shows how they found out certain information and so on.

All in all, I don't regret buying this book for one moment - it is full of website addresses, addresses to write to and lots of information you thought you knew but realised you didn't.

A great help!!
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on 17 June 2009
"Who Do You Think You Are?" Encyclopedia of Genealogy: The Definitive Reference Guide to Tracing Your Family History

In this book, Nick Barratt provides an excellent guide for researching your family history. This is more than just an encyclopedia for dipping into when you need it - as well as offering step by step explanations on how to use various resources to research your family tree, which are ideal for the beginner, Nick (a familiar face from the first series of 'Who do you think you are?') also offers more experienced researchers further information about how to dig deeper in to the background of your ancestors - to put flesh on the bones of your research. Definitely a recommended read and resource for anyone interested in exploring their family history!
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I have been researching my family tree for a few years as a keen amateur. I wish I had this book when I started, because it is a fabulous resource. It won't turn you into a professional genealogist, but it provide you will all you need to get started on your research.

Although the book is clearly a tie-in with the BBC television series "Who Do You Think You Are?" it overlaps with the series only by calling upon examples from episodes of the series. For example, it uses the "Bill Oddie" episode to explain a point about researching death certificates. Thus, you don't need to have seen the series to use the book. Indeed, I would argue that the series does not really show much useful "real" genealogy at all.

Barratt begins the book showing you how to start your research - by collecting information from living relatives, such as stories, certificates, photos, the family Bible, medals, and so on, and then using this to build a basic family tree composed of what you know (rather than guesses and myths). The rest of the book takes you through the key areas of genealogy, including civil registration documents, parish records, military records, and so on. He also takes a look at researching overseas relatives, slavery, immigration, medical records, and many other kinds of records and resources. This book focuses mainly on UK ancestors, which is inevitable for a book aimed at a UK-based readership. It therefore won't be especially helpful if you were born in England but 90% of your ancestors lived in America.

It sometimes skims over the trickier details of subjects, giving the basic facts but leaving you with questions. I would defend that design decision, as the book covers a huge number of subjects in just 531 pages. It would be a far bigger book if it really did cover every subject exhaustively.

The writing style is clear and concise. The book is broken into chapters and sections that make it easy to dip into and find what you want. The book's design is wonderful. It sets out information clearly and uses fonts very nicely, too. It all goes to make the text easy to read and the information accessible. There are occasional typographical errors and grammatical faux pas, but these are minimal for a publication of this size.

I can't find any major faults with it. It does excellently what it sets out to do. If you are starting out on UK-based genealogy as a hobby, this is a brilliant book to have with you. I read mine from cover to cover, and I re-read relevant chapters when return to study particular kinds of records.
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on 20 September 2009
I bought this book from Amazon when I was in the UK and starting my family tree. I did quite a lot of chatting to family and dug up some documents and photos. I started a family tree using Family Historian Family Historian 4 Deluxe Genealogy Software (PC CD) (also from Amazon - an brilliant software package that I would wholeheartedly recommend). When I returned overseas where I live I really started reading this book and wish I had done so before. The information is so thorough and sound. I sort of scanned through the basics impatient to get to the source of information when in the UK but now wish I had taken more heed. I should have looked at every document I could get my hands on and talked to more people. I have so many other questions! I have made great progress via the internet and I couldn't have done without the book for this - it saved me wasting a lot of time. The case histories from the TV series really bring the text to life too.
The book is very focussed on UK ancestry and gives quite little guidance about tracing your family if they came from other countries - however the internet gateway sites it details opens many doors too. Researching my family tree has become a mild obsession the book acts as a great guide to putting all the little jigsaw pieces in place.
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on 5 February 2013
This is an excellent resource! Whatever stage you are at, you will find useful information here. The information can probably be found in other books, but this puts a lot of it in one 500+ page book! Nick Barratt is a historical consultant/researcher, and worked on Who Do You Think You Are as a researcher - he knows his stuff!

It comes in 5 sections:

1. "Getting Started" - the preparation you need, gathering initial information, etc.:
- First Steps
- Building Your Family Tree
- Working in Archives
- Research Tips and Hints

2. "Basic Sources":
- Civil Registration
- Census Records
- Parish Records
- Wills and Probate Documents

3. "Areas of Family History" (what exists and where to find it):
- Military Ancestors (Army; Navy; Marines; Air Force)
- Occupations (Merchant Navy; Sea; Mining; Factories, Foundries and Mills; Travel and Communications; Farming and Agricultural Labourers; Professional Classes - Private Sector/Public Sectgor; Trades and Crafts)
- Migration (Immigration; Emigration)
- Family Secrets (Poverty and Lunacy; Illegitimacy and Adoption; Bigamy and Divorce; Criminal Ancestors)
- Social History (Working Further Back in Time)

4. "Troubleshooting Guides":
- Army Service Records, First World War
- Army Service Medals, First World War
- Early Army Records
- Naval Service Records
- Merchant Seamen Service Records
- Royal Marine Service Records
- RAF Service Records
- Immigration
- Emigration

5. "Key Resources"
- Origins and Meanings of Popular Surnames (Top 100 Surnames from 1881/1998)
- Definitions of Historic Occupations
- Genetic Genealogy (DNA Testing, Social Network Sites)
- National Archive Profiles (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Northern Ireland)
- Useful Website Addresses

All in all, I thoroughly recommend this book - I've had it for almost 5 years, and still find it useful!

It should be noted that this covers resources in the UK (particularly the National Archives of the UK and Eire) - if you are looking for information about resources from other countries, this isn't the book for you. If you need UK-based information, this will certainly help you!
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on 19 April 2009
An excellent book both for the beginner and those more experienced. It is written in a language anyone could understand, not swamped with high academic theory etc.
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on 6 April 2009
A very useful book, well written and well set out. Will be invaluable to Genealogists new and more experienced. Well worth having.
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on 28 March 2011
I started researching my family history a couple of years ago with a subscription on and that site is very helpful. However, this book has even more tips and helpful suggestions in it and it's title really does say it all. I have found it to be extremely helpful in every way. If you are researching your family roots, or even someone else's, this is a fantastic resource book to start with. It is very comprehensive and tells you (I think) everything you need to know about how to go about this task. Complete with websites, addresses and phone numbers, and many, many useful idea's to help you. I highly recommend it to anyone!
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on 29 August 2010
What a resource!!! A well written reference book, that helped me to find out more about my family regarding mining, and agricultural labourers. It is easy to read and very clear to understand. A great book to refer to over and over again. I sm so glad that it is now part of my library of resources. Highly recommended.
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on 13 February 2009
This book is very informative for the new researchers in family history, it enables you to follow suggested routes to find your decendents and tells you the best places to find the information you need.
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