Monday, August 08, 2011

Book Club: What is genealogy?

In preparation for the upcoming Just Genealogy Book Club meeting in Second Life, I've been reading the first few chapters of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, Third Edition by Val D. Greenwood. Of particular interest are his definitions right there on page 3 of chapter 1 "Understanding Genealogical Research."

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, Third Edition

"That branch of history which involved the determination of family relationships. This is not done by copying but rather by research."

"An investigation aimed at discovery and the interpretation of facts and also the revision of accepted theories in light of new facts."

All too frequently a fledgling genealogist creates a database using some sort of readily accessible genealogy management software, then turns to the Internet to search for ancestors by name. He may find an online "tree" and merely clicks a few times to incorporate the online information into his own genealogy.

There is no thought about the sources that online tree researcher may have reviewed for information leading to her kinship determinations. 

Greenwood advises his readers to expand the search to include a survey of surviving record groups for an ancestor's locality and time period. Research specifically to compare and contrast with conclusions stated in that online tree increases the likelihood that the fledgling genealogist's compiled genealogy will be as reliable as possible.

Greenwood then goes on to make comparisons between the work of a genealogy researcher and that of a research chemist. (I know at least one resident of the Netherlands is particularly interested in the concept of the "science" of genealogy research.)

Would that we become as diligent at analysis of preexisting work, determining objectives, pursuing primary investigations and documenting the process for those that follow, as the chemist Greenwood describes in this chapter.

Our Just Genealogy Book Club will meet Tuesday 23 Aug 2011 from 6-7:30pm Second Life Time (same as Pacific US). For more information see our Facebook event page. At that first meeting, I'll provide an outline for our study each month, and guide us through the first discussion. Your thoughts and comments there will significantly add to our understanding of Chapters 1 and 2 of The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, Third Edition.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy.


  1. Genealogy Book Club!! What a fantastic idea!! Two of my favorite things! :) I can't seem to get the Facebook event page link to work. Do you have another way of getting to that page? Thanks for doing this!!

  2. Dear Myrtle,
    I just signed up for the Just Genealogy Book Club through Facebook. I can't wait. Love your blog!!

  3. Some days FB just plain doesn't work correctly. Try coming in on the main Genealogists in Second Life page located at:

  4. Someone asked me if he/she had to purchase the book to participate in the JUST GENEALOGY Book Club meetings in Second Life.

    Kinda need to have the book, I'd say, unless you believe certain pizza commercials of late where the ladies didn't read the book, but just came for the pizza.

    We'll most likely get out of this learning experience about what we put into it, I'd say. Call me silly

  5. Yes, a marvelous idea. Myself, I have never been in a book club. But I chuckle at the "just came for the pizza" comment. My wife, who would read 24/7 if at all possible, belongs to a book club and if she does not particularly care for the book, she will skim it for highlights, read the last chapter, and head off to book club for the snacks. Bless her heart though, I would that I enjoyed reading as much as she does. Books can take you many aplace that you otherwise might not get to. Thanks again for this. And yes, I too love your blog.