Granny Was A Brothel Keeper : 50 Family History Traps
So you thought your grandmother was an upright lady of strict Victorian morals? Would you be surprised to find out that she had been five months pregnant when she married your grandfather? Or that she earned her living pimping out young servant girls to drunken sailors?
'Granny was a Brothel Keeper' is an entertaining collection of true stories which illustrate the fascinating and sometimes bizarre world of family history research.
A fun read in its own right, this book also outlines many of the traps which lie in wait for the family historian. It will help both newbies and old hands become more effective in their research. Who knows, you too may discover lying brides, exploding sheds and bath chairs, shipwreck survivors, serial bigamists and more ...
The modest size of this publication, 133 pages in all, belies the considerable amount of information and good advice crammed between the covers. It is a light-hearted book with many serious messages and warnings, primarily aimed at the beginner, although they stand as salutary reminders for those more experienced who may overlook or forget the basics from time to time.
Kate Broad and Toni Neobard are experienced genealogists who set out some key principles for researching family history in a logical, organised and coherent way. Using examples to illustrate their points, they set out 50 common traps that researchers can innocently fall into and either get completely stuck, or worse - end up going down a false and misleading trail: granny really did run a brothel ….
The book is written in an easy to read style with humorous illustrations that emphasise the points being made. These are backed-up by separate tips and comments by the authors for each example they use. The book has many wise words of advice: be prepared, methodical and organised, don't over-interpret, corroborate sources and take nothing at face value.
One small quibble is that having set out some sound advice and clearly defined some of the pitfalls in researching it would have been useful to include the 'what next' - details of sources where some of the records mentioned can be found. Albeit of modest size, an index would have been useful too.
Without doubt a helpful little book that should prove invaluable for those making the first tentative steps unravelling the history of their family. This book won't solve all the issues and frustrations likely to be encountered but follow the advice offered and the research journey should be easier, more enjoyable and avoid some false and alarming conclusions about your ancestors.
Dr Tony Wakeford
Friends of The National Archives.