December 2009 Book Report

By Sharon DeBartolo Carmack Premium

Required Reading: Essential resources for every researcher.
Remember when you had to buy a query in a magazine or write a good old-fashioned letter to connect with other genealogists and distant cousins? Those methods seem archaic compared to the new online tools Drew Smith describes in Social Networking for Genealogists (Genealogical Publishing Co.). Learn how to use blogs, message boards, podcasts, Facebook, YouTube, collaborative editing platforms and more. Smith’s book is a quick-and-easy read loaded with screen captures and ideas; it would be even more useful if it had a subject index at the back of the book.
Hot off the Press: New books to heat up your family history search.

1. Ichabod Foster is missing, and Julie Foster Van Camp sets out to solve the mystery of his 1813 disappearance in Searching for Ichabod: His Eighteenth-Century Diary Leads Me Home (BookSurge). Using Foster’s diary, Van Camp retraces the missing man’s steps through Rhode Island, Vermont and New York to discover what became of this farmer, medical practitioner, shoemaker and religious liberal.
2. A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert (Scribner) is a provocative novel about five generations of women. The story begins with Dorothy Townsend, a suffragist who goes on a hunger strike in an effort to win equal rights for women, and ends with Townsend’s great-granddaughter in post-Sept. 11 Manhattan. Walbert displays the women’s attempts to engage and negotiate the political landscapes of their time.

3. Fourteen accomplished writers investigate the gray area where memory and history intersect in Tell Me True: Memoir, History, and Writing a Life edited by Patricia Hampl and Elaine Tyler May (Borealis Books). Whether the life story emerges from archival sources or from personal memory, writers must balance readability with the facts. Learn how notable memoirists struggle and deal with this challenge. 

Pros’ Picks: Genealogy gurus share their reading recommendations.

Oklahoma: A Rich Heritage by Odie B. Faulk and William D. Welge (American Historical Press)

Recommended by: Nancy Calhoun, head of genealogy and local history at the Muskogee, Okla., Public


  • Book summary: Oklahoma encompasses the state’s history, including the time period preceding statehood in 1907, and the history of both Indian and Oklahoma territories.
  • Likes and dislikes: The book contains more than 400 illustrations, photographs, maps and art recording the entire statehood. Pre-statehood photos capture the amazing variety in Indian and Oklahoma territories. The only negative is it’s a general history: Genealogists like specific names, dates and details.
  • Behind the scenes: It’s the first comprehensive history of Oklahoma in many years, published in celebration of Oklahoma’s centennial in 2007. Welge has been director of research for the Oklahoma Historical Society since 1990.
  • Lasting impressions: Family historians need a basic knowledge of the state and how it was settled. I turn to this book for dates and boundaries for the various land openings, and for information on the Cherokee, Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Seminole nations.
  • Best bonus: Researchers chasing an ancestor who disappeared in 1880 to 1900 may find that person spent time in one of the territories homesteading, on an adventure, hiding from the law or trying to make his/her fortune in a soon-to-be state.

December 2009 Family Tree Magazine