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Book Review Index

These reviews have been provided by members of our Society.

The reviewers are:
JD - Jean Debney, JG - John Gurnett, CMBH - Catherine Harrington, JM - Jill Muir, DS - Daphne Spurling

Please use the links to find cost and information on how to buy the books.

The Secretary Hand ABC by Alf Ison [BerksFHS 3rd edn 2000]
booklist details (Selected Useful Books)

This guide to reading older documents, including wills and probate inventories, has been a best seller since its first edition in 1982. It guides the reader using the same technique as the alphabet books we used as children with a picture next to each letter of the alphabet. If you are trying to read an old document for the first time this book will help you to understand how the most difficult words were formed. This book ought to be on every family historians’ bookshelf. (JG - Dec 2000)

Militia Lists and Musters 1757-1876 by Jeremy Gibson and Mervyn Medlycott [FFHS 4th edn]

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Subtitled a 'Directory of holdings in the British Isles' this is the fourth edition of a guide, arranged county-by-county, to finding Militia lists and musters. There is also a useful introduction describing how these records were created. Thus under the 1757 Militia Act, “parish constable were ordered to record the names of all men aged 18 to 50,” so in theory these lists should be virtual complete annual censuses for men. However the survival rates for these lists is patchy. The authors note that the records and where they were held were re-surveyed for the third edition, but not for this one, although it does contain some new information as well as up-to-date address details for Record Offices etc. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Marriage and Census Indexes for Family Historians by Jeremy Gibson and Elizabeth Hampson [FFHS 8th edn]

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An-updated edition pointing family historians to marriage and census indexes, arranged by English county, with Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands and Ireland at the end. A useful source if you are looking to see if a marriage or census index exists for an area that you are interested in. It is particularly useful for locating privately held indexes such as the Berkshire Name Index. Details of printed indexes are also included, as well as those held at Records Offices and Local Studies Libraries. All entries contain contact details and relevant cost of enquiries. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Specialist Indexes for Family Historians by Jeremy Gibson and Elizabeth Hampson [FFHS 2nd edn]
booklist details (Useful Books)

The information contained in this book was freshly surveyed in Spring 2000 and is again arranged by county. The authors point out that a “compilation such as this must always be something of a lucky dip”, but nevertheless is well worth dipping into in case someone has indexed a series of records which may include your ancestor. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

An Introduction to British Civil Registration by Tom Wood [FFHS 2nd edn]
booklist details (Introductory Books)

If you are new to Family History, then a guide to Civil Registration is probably something you need to read first to follow the procedures for finding and obtaining certificates for Births, Marriages and Deaths. As the title indicates, this book is not exclusive to England and Wales, but covers Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

An Introduction to Poor Law Documents before 1834 by Anne Cole [FFHS 2nd edn]
booklist details (Books on Poor Law)

This guide provides a brief introduction to the pre-1834 poor law and concentrates on describing the documents produced by the necessary processes, removal orders, settlement certificates, overseers accounts, churchwardens accounts etc. There is also a reminder that not only the poor feature in these records, those who administered the system are also recorded, thus a set of churchwardens accounts will include the names of successive churchwardens. Poor Law records are usually held in the relevant county record office, however if making a special trip it is wise to establish beforehand what a particular repository holds. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

An introduction to Friendly Society Records by Roger Logan [FFHS]
booklist details (Introductory Books)

Describes the background to friendly societies which mainly flourished during the nineteenth century and declined dramatically following the introduction of the welfare state in 1948. This is an under-used source currently and there is no comprehensive systematic listing of Friendly Society archives. However, the author suggests that one listing to try is the computerised National Register of Archives, held by the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, although much material is believed to be held in local record offices, often unclassified. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Basic Approach to Illuminating Your Family History with Picture Postcards by Philip J Chapman [FFHS]
booklist details (Basic Facts)

This is a useful book, reminding family historians that there are other things we can do when we cannot find a picture of our ancestor, perhaps there is postcard of the church which our ancestors attended, or the High Street where they ran a business. Contains information about the background of picture postcards and how to go about collecting what you want, whilst warning you not to get sidetracked into picture-postcard collecting. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Administrative Records for Yorkshire Genealogists by Stuart A Raymond
Information Sources for Yorkshire Genealogists by Stuart A Raymond
Yorkshire Lists of Names by Stuart A Raymond

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These publications are part of a series which aim to list various sources for Yorkshire researchers. Having Yorkshire ancestors, I looked up Bolton Abbey in all three and discovered references in all three; the reference in “Information Sources for Yorkshire Genealogists” was to an article entitled “Personal Mobility in Three West Riding parishes, 1777-1812” contained in Local Population Studies which is based on the registers of Bolton Abbey, Skipton and Addingham. This is a source I would not have found were it not for a book such as this. Well worth consulting if you have Yorkshire interests. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Ghosts of Berkshire by Ian McLoughlin [Countryside Books]

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This book cover the post-1974 county and recounts tales of some Berkshire ghosts, including Lady Hoby of Bisham Abbey, Herne the Hunter of Windsor Forest, the Kintbury Witch, the Ghosts of Purley Hall and several others. (CMBH - Dec 2000)

Jewish Ancestors? - A Beginner’s Guide To Jewish Genealogy In Great Britain contributions by various authors and edited by Rosemary Wenzerul [Jewish Genealogical Society]

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This is a book written for both the expert and the beginner. The different chapters cover modern sources and Internet addresses as well as the basics of civil registration and wills and specialist sources such as naturalisation, the Jewish Chronicle and synagogue records.  There is a glossary of Yiddish terms, a list of abbreviations, useful addresses including some European ones, and a bibliography. (JD - 2000?)

<>An Introduction to Occupations, a preliminary list by Joyce Culling [FFHS 2nd edn]

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This new edition includes over 500 new entries in the occupations list as well as useful sources, a glossary, bibliography and a list of Latin occupations.  64 pages. (JD - 2000?)

Basic Facts about . . .
booklist details (Basic Facts)

This is a low-priced, but well edited, and very useful series for all researchers.  Published by Federation FHS; A5, 16 pages with different colour card covers. All include lists of useful addresses and further reading. (JD - 2000?)

Basic Facts about Using Record Offices for Family Historians [2nd edn]
booklist details (Basic Facts)

This updated edition includes sections on preparations beforehand, reserving a research place, dos and don’ts, rules and regulations, using your time efficiently, getting help, making notes, and alternatives to County Record Offices. (JD - 2000?)

Basic Facts about Using Education Records
booklist details (Basic Facts)

A new title in the 'Basic Facts' series introducing education records.  Topics include surviving records and their location and educational facilities, establishment-based and student-based education records and reports. (JD - 2000?)

Gibson Guide - Lists of Londoners by Jeremy Gibson & Heather Creaton [FFHS 3rd edn]
booklist details (Books about Londoners)

Anyone with ancestors who spent at least part of their lives in London will welcome this updated list of sourcesinside the front and back covers and in the text.  .  Outline maps are The contents are divided into General listings, Lists concerning particular types of source and Thematic listings of all the pre-1830 parishes and chapelries in the .  There is an index City of London, County of Middlesex and the Borough of Southwark with their ecclesiastical jurisdictions for marriage licences and probate. (JD - 2000?)

Current Publications by Member Societies of the FFHS compiled by Elizabeth Hampson. [FFHS 10th edn]

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The number of new publications available from family history societies worldwide is expanding by the minute.  This edition has grown by almost 100 pages.  The Federation FHS publications list is included along with the Society of Genealogists and the British Record Society.  Member societies of England and Wales are listed alphabetically, followed by Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Holland.  There are also several one-name societies and a specialist society.  A useful finding aid would be a list of the societies included.

Older editions of this publication should not be discarded as they have society entries and references to titles now out of print. (JD - 2000?)

Finding Genealogy On The Internet by Peter Christian [David Hawgood 1999 ]
20pp booklet

booklist details (Internet & Computing Books)

A well-written "how-to-do-it" book about finding genealogical and surname information on the World Wide Web, including using e-mail discussion lists. (JD - 2000?)

2nd Edn now available [2002]

FamilySearch On The Internet by David Hawgood [David Hawgood 1999]
20pp booklet

booklist details (Internet & Computing Books)

This is a good basic introduction to using FamilySearch and its many facilities on the World Wide Web.  FamilySearch is the very successful website provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to help anyone to freely find information about their ancestors. (JD - 2000?)

The Brimpton Story [Brimpton Parish Research Association 1999]
booklist details (Berkshire Places)

This illustrated book is 150 pages long. It is brimming with facts, memories, pictures and stories, it is a ‘must-have’ for anyone with an interest in local history or who may have ancestors in the area. (JD - 2000?)

Purley on Thames at the Millennium. Compiled by John Chapman [Project Purley 2000]

booklist details (Berkshire Places)

A joint publication with the Parish Council, it is packed full of facts and photos, including details of the millennium programme and local organisations, etc. (JD - 2000?)

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updated 23rd June 2002
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