Secrets of Tracing Your Ancestors. Fifth edition.
by W. Daniel Quillen. Published by Cold Spring Press, Cold Spring Harbor, NY. 2011. 223 pages.
Secrets of Tracing Your Ancestors would be a good book for the curious genealogist who has an interest in the history of the family, but just does not have the time nor the money yet to go out and do it. I think this book would be great incentive to get the inquisitive beginner thinking about the close-to-home work we all wish we had done when we were younger, in the days before the old folks died.
Tracing Your Ancestors is not a large reference volume, but rather an easy-to-carry-around beginner’s guide, easy to read, and inspirational to the early starter who is still tied close to home. I see this book as a means of giving the family history student some very effective tools to organize the paperwork, and the motivation to do those things within the person’s grasp, such as interviewing the parents, grandparents, and other relatives, and the encouragement to begin collecting the stories that will be gone too soon.
The chapter on getting organized is excellent, offering precise instructions in sorting, arranging, categorizing, and filing your burgeoning piles of data. He completely describes the family group sheet and pedigree chart, and offers sample checklists to keep one on track.
Mr. Quillen gives a nod to the valuable help one can derive from membership in a local genealogical society, and when it might be smart to hire a professional genealogist to do a task.
I was disappointed to find a nearly complete absence of information about source citations. I found no recommendation for formatting source citations, nor a discussion about the importance of doing so. I think even the beginner needs to have an awareness of good citational analysis and work
I think Ancestors is an excellent starting point for the new genealogist. Mr Quillen has an eager tone, communicates enthusiasm and excitement, and certainly points the novice in the right direction. He can definitely stimulate one to move from “One of these days I think I’ll…” to “Gosh, I can’t wait to get started!”
Secrets of Tracing Your Ancestors is available on Amazon at http://goo.gl/5f4tO.