Crash Course in Genealogy

Crash Course in Genealogy

Crash Course in Genealogy

Crash Course in Genealogy


A basic, how-to book written primarily to prepare librarians to assist genealogy researchers, this guide can also be used by those who wish to discover and document their family histories.

Timelines listing events for each century in U.S. history that may have created records about family members

Illustrations of census records, pedigree charts, family group sheets, and DNA results

Maps of both Y-chromosome (male) and mitochondrial (female) DNA haplogroups to illustrate the deep historical migration of our ancestors

Activities and a reading list for expanding one's knowledge and keeping up-to-date with current developments

An extensive glossary


This book is intended to be a basic training course for library workers who need to absorb an overview of genealogy very quickly in order to help family history researchers who visit the libraries where they are employed. It will also be useful to individuals interested in researching their own families. As you read this book you will encounter some intentional redundancy as I emphasize key concepts. Although I tried to give credit to those whose ideas and words I used, the book is unapologetically written in an informal, almost blog-like, style. If that offends you, you probably should not be reading Crash Course in Genealogy. You probably are looking for a more formal and detailed treatise on the subject.

As a brief introduction to the subject, this book cannot make a library worker into an expert in any particular area of genealogical research. However, hopefully it can reduce the fear factor that you may now feel when a rabid genealogist confronts you at your service desk. In this book I will introduce you to the most important overarching principles of genealogy research; expose you to the most used resources, many of which may be available in your library or on the Internet; march you backward through U.S. history; give clues about destinations to which you can refer your patrons for additional information; suggest some of the approaches to the challenges of researching families of color; help you get a concept of how to start overseas research; help you begin to understand how DNA research can be applied to genealogy; and give suggestions for further learning.

I would like to acknowledge the following individuals who assisted me in my endeavor: Blanche Woolls, the editor of the Crash Course series for inviting me to write this book and gently nagging me until it came to the top of my priorities list.

Ron Maas, VP Operations, Libraries Unlimited at ABC-CLIO, whose calm demeanor and sage counsel have been invaluable during all of my projects with Libraries Unlimited since 1998.

Emma Bailey, Senior Production Coordinator, Libraries Unlimited / Linworth, for efficiently guiding this manuscript through the publishing process.

Deborah LaBoon, Marketing Manager, Libraries Unlimited / Linworth, for cheerfully resolving all kinds of logistical and distributions problems over the years.

Dan Burrows, who graciously allowed me to include his genealogical glossary as an attachment to this book.

Martha Grenzeback, genealogy librarian of the Omaha Public Library, for suggesting the need for a chapter on beginning European research and for critically reading the first draft of that chapter.

Pete Petersen, retired genetics instructor and former colleague at Cuesta College, for reading the first draft of chapter 10 and making sure I did not stray too far from the scientific truth in my chapter on applying DNA testing to genealogy research.

Bill Forsyth for providing access to the wide array of databases marketed by ProQuest.

Kim Harrison and her colleagues at for permission to use most of the census and other templates in the appendix.

Tom Kemp for providing access to GenealogyBank.

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