Family History Web Directory : The Genealogical Websites You Can't Do Without
Jonathan Scott's Family History Web Directory is an information-packed reference guide that distils the best of the internet into one easy-to-use format. Themed sections cover different topics, from 'getting started' to specific occupations, and there is an index reproducing all the websites in A-Z order. His handbook is a vital source for less experienced researchers, and a handy aide-memoire for more seasoned campaigners.
Web addresses are listed by topic, then in order of importance and usefulness. An extraordinary range of sites that will interest family historians is included - from records of births and deaths, tax, crime and religion, to military records and records of work and occupations. Also featured are sites that give information about archives, blogs and forums, social networking and sharing research.
The internet can be an overwhelming place for the genealogist. Jonathan Scott's book provides readers with online shortcuts, tips for getting the best from well-known websites, plus the details of all kinds of lesser-known and hard-to-find sources.
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It may seem odd at first sight that anyone should write a book all about the websites you cannot do without. Surely the directory should itself be on a website. But if you try searching for a Family History Directory, you will realise why a book is useful. The 'web results' can have a randomness that can be very discouraging for new users. What comes up can be ordered in a particular way, and not just by paying search providers.
So there is a place for a physical directory aimed at those new to using the web for family history, as this book is. The author has spent several decades visiting genealogical websites, and his directory is clear, easy to use and good value for money. It has a brief but useful 'getting started' section and a number of tips, including advice about what to do if a website has closed down or been renamed. As it covers websites thematically, there is a fair amount of repetition, but the list is still long - between 1000 and 1500 websites, judging by the Index - though of course it cannot be wholly comprehensive.
My own principal regret is that there is not more description of websites when they first appear, if their names are not self-explanatory: for example, the first appearance of the Harleian Society's website is under 'Estate Records' rather than 'Heraldry', and there is no hint of what is to be found on this website. But still, I would have been very pleased to have Mr Scott's guiding hand in mine when first I started Internet research that involved tracing people.
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