By Carolyn L. Barkley
When I’m getting ready for a research trip – particularly one involving plane flights – I have often wished that I could pack how-to resources that were light-weight and narrow in thickness, but rich in authoritative content as well as durable in physical format. Genealogy at a Glance, a new series recently introduced by Genealogical Publishing Company, meets all of my criteria.
The basic concept of this series provides how-to information on a variety of topics in just four pages; the fact that these pages are laminated makes them perfect travel companions. Compiled by respected authorities, each At a Glance title provides a distillation of the key ingredients in a given area of genealogical research. This overview of the basic facts will allow you to begin and proceed successfully with your research. The information is provided literally at a glance.
The first title in this series is Brian Mitchell’s Genealogy at a Glance: Irish Genealogy Research. An enormous amount of useful information is provided in its four pages. An initial section discusses the background of Irish emigration and helps place such topics as the Scots-Irish and passenger lists within a historical context. A section entitled “Unlocking Irish Family History” discusses the importance of geography (place of origin) and surnames; record sources such as civil and church registers and gravestone inscriptions are explained; information is provided on census returns such as Griffith’s Valuation, tithe applotment books and census substitutes; and contact information is provided for a variety of major record offices, such as the General Register Office, the National Archives of Ireland, and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland. Finally, a series of topic-related online resources are listed, such as the website of Irish Genealogy Limited.
Mr. Mitchell’s Irish work offers a number of methodology “tips” throughout the publication. For example: one tip notes that “the place names search option at irishtimes.com/ancestor enables researchers to pinpoint the county and parish locations of 65,000 Irish place names.” In searching that site for the Barkley surname, I found a list of the number of Barkley households in each Irish county from the primary value property survey 1847-64. While a further breakdown is available by parish, that list requires a payment of 7 euro.
The bibliographer in me appreciates the resources “for further reference” listed at the end of each major section. While several of these titles are Genealogical Publishing Company or Clearfield publications such as the third edition of John Grenham’s Tracing Your Irish Ancestors (Genealogical Publishing Co., 2006), titles from other publishers are included as well. The contents are clearly listed on the first page as well as a series of “Quick Facts,” in this case several population-related statistics. For example: did you know that 32.6 million Americans, nearly 12% of the population, claim Irish ancestry? This title would definitely be of assistance to anyone working on Irish genealogy, either at home or during a research trip.
Additional series titles now available include Denise R. Larson’s Genealogy at a Glance: French-Canadian Genealogy Research and David Dobson’s Genealogy at a Glance: Scottish Genealogy Research. Ms. Larson discusses unique aspects of French-Canadian research, including Acadia and Quebec, as well as traditional record sources, record repositories and online sources. Mr. Dobson, like Mr. Mitchell, uses emigration as a “jumping off point” to discussions of unique Scottish records, including Old Parish Record, post-1854 civil registrations and census returns from 1841-1901, as well as wills, testaments, kirk session records and service of heirs.
Genealogical Publishing Company is awaiting the completion of additional products in the series covering the following topics: Land Records, England, Tennessee, the Family History Library, Kentucky, the Revolutionary War, New York City, the Civil War, and more.
At a Glance titles will not only fit in your suitcase or briefcase, but will also fit quite nicely in a Christmas stocking, so you may want to include them in your letter to Santa. Be on the lookout for new additions to this series throughout 2011. If you have an idea for an At a Glance title, please be sure to share it through the blog or stop by the Genealogical Publishing Company booth at the NGS Conference in Charleston in May.