Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn

My copy of this new book arrived today, so ahead of me is, I hope, an enjoyable and informative read. In the preface, the author says the book aims to help family historians “now in need of extra techniques and inspiration in order to help them get over a problem, or to understand how to move on to the next stage in their research”. Having obtained all the easier to get hold of information on my ancestors, plus work my way through some conundrums that proved a challenge, plus come up against the inevitable brick walls, I hope this book will give me some good ideas. It’s about how to use and understand what you find out and not just about where to find data, which makes a change from the usual run of the mill books about genealogy.

It’s so easy to make mistakes, especially when using online sources. There are quite a few trees on Ancestry that link into mine, but I have yet to see one which doesn’t have at least one mistake. Which isn’t to say my own tree is perfect, as I’m sure there’s a mistake there somewhere which I haven’t discovered yet. However, to build an accurate tree you have to go back to original sources, and understand how to read and interpret them, and not rely on other people’s research. The advice “don’t believe everything you find on the internet” is as true for genealogy as it is for everything else.

3 responses to “Genealogy: Essential Research Methods by Helen Osborn

  1. Let us know what you think of the book when you’ve read it! I’ve not done much research recently but would like to go back to it. In particular there are a couple of mysteries I would dearly love to solve.

  2. Will do, Kath. So far I think it’s good, but the author comes across as a rather “traditional” genealogist who seems to have adapted to the internet somewhat reluctantly. Plus some of the tips and hints she gives are, to my mind, simply ways of thinking about problems that I’ve already done. I’ll let you know more when I’ve finished it.

    If you want to, you can email me with details of one of your mysteries and I’ll give it some thought. I’ve managed to untangle a few mysteries on my own family tree, though some remain.

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