Genealogy at A Glance – Don’t Go Anywhere Without One

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

One of the my disappointments in that past couple of years was the transfer of the Family History Library’s original print Research Outlines to digital versions on the FamilySearch Wiki. Yes, I know that the digital version means easy access no matter where I am, but sometimes a physical copy is easier to work with when I’m working in an archive, or at home or at a hotel while outlining or refining my research plan. Shows my age, I guess, but there you have it!

I’m very happy, therefore, to be able to use Genealogical Publishing Company’s series, Genealogy at a Glance, in my research.

Considered collectively, there are many positive things to say about the series. The first is its shelf footprint. Placed side by side, the sixteen available topics inhabit less than two inches of the reference shelf beside my desk (even less if squeezed on a tight shelf). The second is size (again), now coupled with weight. If I were flying to a research site and, for the sake of this discussion, let’s say I were to take all of them with me, they would take up only 8.5 x 11 x 2 inches in my suitcase (again, less if squashed by the rest of the contents of the suitcase) and would add well under a pound of weight to my luggage – a real plus in this day and age of inconvenient airline regulations. Even better, one or two will also easily slide into my laptop case. Finally, each title costs under $10.00 – a wonder in today’s genealogical publishing market.

There are sixteen titles currently available in this series; one more definitely is scheduled for later this year, with four more possible as well. Each title is four pages in length, laminated for durability. If you combine this seemingly brief format with content provided by genealogical experts, the result is a concise, surprisingly well-rounded presentation of the most important resources and methodologies to assist you while researching.

Current titles and authors fall into several categories:

Each title features two boxes at the top of the first page; one lists Contents, the other Quick Facts and/or Important Dates that pertain to the topic.  Background information provides context for research and records, followed by discussions of specific record sources and methodologies. Throughout the four pages, tips are provided to assist with (or avoid) research problems. Genealogy at a Glance: German Genealogy Research discusses German emigration, passenger lists, places, maps, surnames and given names, vital records (church records and civil registration), document centers, census records, reference titles, and online resources. I quickly counted over forty references to either print or online resources. Sharon Carmack’s Genealogy at a Glance: American Cemetery Research includes background information on “Finding Your Ancestor’s Final Resting Place,” and discusses types of cemeteries, planning a cemetery field trip, photographing markers, rubbing tombstones, and finding living relatives. Craig Scott’s Genealogy at a Glance: Revolutionary War Genealogy Research includes information on lineage societies, pension records, compiled military service records, muster rolls, settled accounts, bounty land, manuscript collections, and federal census records. Carol McGinnis’ Genealogy at a Glance: Michigan Genealogy Research discusses the history of Michigan settlement and the ancestry of its settlers (including the Canadian connection), record sources (vital, church, cemetery, land, and military records), census returns, supplementary sources such as county histories and newspapers, and major repositories and online resources.

The next title scheduled for 2012 publication outlines how to plan for successful research in Salt Lake City’s Family History Library; possible 2012/13 titles include Slovak Research in the ethnic category, and Tennessee, North Carolina, and Maryland Research in the state category.

These titles are not intended to be comprehensive – they are, after all, four pages long. Nevertheless, for me, Genealogy at a Glance titles are invaluable, particularly when researching in an area that is not in my area of expertise. The Revolutionary War offers a fine example. For some reason, despite several lectures and explanations over many years, the details about records such as settled accounts just don’t seem to stick in my brain. I know I need to look at them, but the process doesn’t always come to mind easily. If I have my At a Glance with me, however, I can quickly remind myself of the essentials and continue my research successfully – or at least more confidently.

In summary, these titles take up almost no space on the shelf, weigh almost nothing in your luggage, cost relatively little, and offer concise, expert advice on a specific research topic. What a powerful combination! Add them to your library today!


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