Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Is there such a thing as an advanced genealogy book?

 I received an very interesting comment to a post the other day. The commentator asked for a list of "advanced genealogy books." That started me thinking. Is there such a thing as an advanced genealogy book? Even after some consideration, I am not sure how I would categorize a book as advanced. I think the only difference between a book aimed at beginning genealogists and one that someone would consider advanced, is the topics addressed in the book. 

The reason why I cannot make the distinction is that as genealogists, we never really get past our need to consider the basics. We may not think we need any particular book to remind us of what we already know, but it is always a good idea to be reminded anyway. There is another current challenge in the world of genealogical books and that is the fast moving and changing technology. It is easy to go back to a book or even a blog post, even one or two years old, and find references that date the material. 

I have recently been reviewing and updating some articles for the Blog in the TechTips area. Some of the posts I have reviewed so far are only one or two years old but require major revisions. Books go out of date equally as rapidly. When I have suggested lists of books to genealogists in the past, I have chosen books that, to some extent, defy the ravages of time. They are so basic as to be useful years after they were written or they cover areas that do not change with technology. In fact, this is usually the case. Most genealogical principles are the same as they were 100 years ago. We seem to be more focused today, but much of what was written 100 years ago still applies to us today. We think we are "up-to-date and modern" but we are actually very, very traditional in our way of approaching genealogical issues. 

So, are there books that can be considered advanced? I guess I would have to conclude that anything in a genealogy book that you don't already know is "advanced." But I would suggest that if you have an opportunity to visit a library with a sizable collection of genealogy related books, that you take a few minutes (or hours) to walk up and down the shelves and look at the books. You will see that most of the books on the shelves will turn out to be compilations of genealogical information or writings about the history of people or places. I would suggest that the day you start investigating these books is the day you begin your "advanced" training as a genealogist. 

If you want a quick and free introduction to what you might call "advanced" genealogy, I would also suggest a few topics in Google Books. I would also suggest reading some back editions of The American Genealogist. You can get complete digital access to the entire set of back issues with a membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society, or you can find copies in genealogy libraries around the U.S. A quick look for the journal in shows that copies are listed in 237 libraries around the world. There are a lot of other journals and books with similar information, but awareness of these journals and books is what separates the uninitiated from the initiated in genealogy. 

One set of journals that is pretty well covered for free in Google Books is the Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, published beginning in 1910. 

Reading this journal will also give you a good idea of what is considered "advanced" genealogy. From my viewpoint, advancing in genealogy is more a process of learning about sources and maturing in your ability to research those sources than it is any kind of more technical jargon-filled topic. I would suggest you start with the basic books however, and when you can remember the basics you will be already a long way down the road to becoming advanced. 

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