The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Services and Research by James Swan: Book Review

A while ago, another blogger mentioned The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Services and Research by James Swan.

I had never heard of this book and it was published in 2004, pretty much the dinosaur age for online genealogical research.

However, the blogger stated that there was still much excellent information to be found in Swan’s book and I happened to find one online for just $14.00. It was so inexpensive that I decided to purchase it.

Table of Contents

List of Figures

Part I The Librarians’ Guide to Genealogical Services
Chapter 1 Starting Research
Chapter 2 Building the Genealogical Collection
Chapter 3 Defining the Technological Task
Chapter 4 Identifying and Accessing Major Genealogy Repositories
Chapter 5 Distinguishing Other Genealogical Resource Facilities
Chapter 6 Providing Instruction for Genealogists
Chapter 7 Staying Current Professionally

Part II The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Research
Chapter 8 Starting an Organized Search
Chapter 9 Finding Genealogically Significant Sources
Chapter 10 Identifying Databases and Indexes
Chapter 11 Facilitating Research with Computers
Chapter 12 Getting Help from Professional Researchers

Part III Handy Genealogical Resources and Worksheets
Tool Kit 1 The Resource Bibliography
Tool Kit 2 National Archives Regional Collections
Tool Kit 3 Getting Started Handouts
Tool Kit 4 Keeping Your Research Organized
Tool Kit 5 Additional Research Checklists
Tool Kit 6 Federal Census Worksheets
Tool Kit 7 Requesting Information
Tool Kit 8 Web and Computer Resources

[Note that Tool Kits 3-8 have many subsections. ]


Although this book is geared towards genealogy reference librarians, and some of it is a bit outdated, e.g. companies that are no longer around, there is still some great reference material in this book.

Most of the Chapter and Took Kit entries in the table above are self-explanatory.

For anyone just beginning his/her family history research, Part II is an excellent step-by-step guide to getting started.

Many different types of records which are useful in family history research are explained, including unusual ones, like estate auction records and biographical dictionaries.

Part II is packed with information. Even Chapter 11, Facilitating Research with Computers, isn’t totally outdated, as it discusses data entry fields in software programs and has a table of genealogy software programs. Some of those companies are long out of business, but Family Tree Maker, Legacy and RootsMagic are all on the list.

There were many excellent genealogy-related books on the market by 2004 and the Resource Bibliography contains most of them.

There is also a section that covers U.S. state libraries and historical societies with web addresses, organized alphabetically by state.

There is even a handy CD at the back of the book. Mine looks like it’s never been used.

Not surprisingly, some of the links in the chapters still work, while others are broken. The ones that do work are excellent resources, like NARA.

The CD section on Genealogical and Historical Societies contains a lengthy list of links, almost all of which are still current.

The Librarian’s Guide to Genealogical Service and Research is a whopping 360 pages long. The publisher is out of business, but used copies can be found for sale online.

Why would someone want a book like this published back in 2004 when online searches can be done today?

The answer: Because not everyone is familiar with every resource and repository that might help with his/her personal research. Answers can be found by just flipping a few pages.

I’d recommend this book for beginning and early intermediate genealogists, but only if found for under $25.00. Visit your favorite online websites for available copies.




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