Friday, October 19, 2012

Some Top-line Genealogy Books

The American Society of Genealogists' Donald Lines Jacobus award is 40 years old this year. It's given to "a model genealogical work published within the previous five years," from nominations made by ASG Fellows who edit publications that publish book reviews.

The other day at the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center I hunted up half a dozen of the more recent ones that were straight family histories, hoping to find a common model for how they handled source lists. I didn't -- they were all different -- but I found several that I would like to spend more time with. 

The challenges of a book are much different from a magazine article of any kind. We're often advised to read the best genealogy periodicals, but not so often are books recommended. Maybe that's because books are more quirky, not being so subject to editing. Here are a handful of the Jacobus winners that I hope to be stranded at Allen County long enough some day to dig into:

Peter Haring Judd, The Hatch and Brood of Time: Five Phelps Families in the Atlantic World, 1720-1880 (Boston: Newbury Street Press, 1999) ACPLGC 929.2 P512JU  I couldn't not notice the preface by David Hackett Fischer (Albion's Seed).

Willis H. White, The TillotsonFamily, Long Island Cordwood, and the Decline of East Coast Sail (N.p.: Penobscot Press, 2008) ACPLGC 929.2 T467WHA This happened to be the first one I picked up and I spent the most time with it. I've never seen any family account of any length that blended so perfectly with the historical context -- it was all one. Surely every family could have a theme, but most of them would be farming.

Jane Thompson-Stahr, The Burling Books: Ancestors and Descendants of Edward and Grace Burling, Quakers (1600-2000), 2 vols. (Baltimore: Gateway Press, 2001) ACPLGC 929.2 B9248TH  In terms of my original quest, this was most informative. The author organized the source list and footnotes by abbreviation, a useful technique as sources may otherwise be alphabetized differently from what the reader might expect from the reference notes.

Abbott Lowell Cummings, The Descendants of John Comins (ca.1668-1751) and his wife Mary, of Woburn and Oxford, Massachusetts andWindham County, Connecticut (Boston: Newbury Street Press, 2001) ACPLGC 929.2 C9114BY  Anyone up to wrangle more than 7700 footnotes in one sequence? I'd like to get into the following proof issue too. The author writes, "The long-sought documentation of my Willington hypothesis has never materialized. Instead, the curious reader will find no less than seven pieces of circumstantial evidence set forth which have led me to the unshakable conclusion that William was an unrecorded son of John Comins of Willington, despite the fact that not a single piece of 'hard' proof has yet been found."

Check out the full list at the first link above.

Harold Henderson, "Some Top-line Genealogy Books," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 19 October 2012 ( : accessed [access date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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