Category Archives: Book Reviews

New GeneaGem: Tips & Quips by Elizabeth Shown Mills and Ruth Brossette Lennon

Not only do I rarely post book reviews, I don’t think I’ve ever chosen a single book as a GeneaGem. Today is an exception!

I attended my local Pima County Genealogy Society meeting yesterday and was lucky enough to win a great door prize. I had no idea this book even existed!

Tips & Quips for the Family Historian

Before the drawing for the book, everyone commented on what a “cute little” book it is. Yes, it is a small tome, only 7 1/4 inches by 5 1/2 inches and perhaps a half inch thick.

The title is also cute, but it belies the many words of wisdom that are found inside its covers.

Elizabeth Shown Mills and Ruth Brossette Lemon have compiled a ton of sage advice for genealogical researchers. Given Elizabeth Shown Mills’ reputation for source citations, each quotation is fully sourced – all 332 of them!

Quotations have been sorted into one of 87 (!) categories, ranging from topics which would be expected, such as Elusive Ancestors, Research Traps and Genealogical Proof Standard to less common, more surprising categories like “Gullibility.”

Who has contributed quotes? Everyone from Val Greenwood to Plutarch to Maya Angelou to Rosie O’Donnell.

The sayings are really reminders to follow sound research principles and create quality work documenting our family histories.

The book, published in 2017,  is available from the Genealogical Publishing Company for $14.95. GPC has it classified under Humor, but I’m not sure why. The “quips” – like stating that genealogy is a “grave disease” are few and far between compared to the “tips,” which are on target, serious and made to keep family historians on their toes in a good way. The screen shot above is from the GPC website and gives you a taste of what is inside the book.

I highly recommend this book as it is light reading, but reminds the reader of the importance of his/her work.

It would make a great holiday gift for the genealogist in your family.

GeneaGem: Book Review – Organize Your Genealogy by Drew Smith

There are some fabulous genealogy books out there, although my modern collection is becoming more of the Kindle variety. The paper books that I purchase are the ones that draw me in in a special way – they are the books which I feel I will be using the most.

Drew Smith’s new book, organize your genealogy: STRATEGIES and SOLUTIONS for EVERY RESEARCHER, is one of those paper copies I will treasure. It is newly published – 1 July 2016 was the official date – and, although I wasn’t one of the customers on the pre-order list, I did purchase my copy before the Independence Day holiday.


By nature, I am a very organized person and my friends would likely be surprised that I bought a book on organizing myself. However, the preview pages online line looked intriguing and the chapters covered much more than just setting up files on the computer.

This book will be around for a long time because I think Drew said it best in the Conclusion at the end of his book – It’s All About the Method. Websites, products and online trees will come and go, but well thought out methods will last. That’s what this book is all about – choosing methods that work in all genealogical facets of one’s life.

The book has 11 chapters plus a Conclusion, which is sort of a closing statement to the book, and a short Appendix with a few sample forms.

Chapter 1 – Organizing Yourself
Chapter 2 – Organizing Your Space
Chapter 3 – Organizing Your Goals
Chapter 4 – Organizing Your Notes and Ideas
Chapter 5 – Organizing Your Files
Chapter 6 – Organizing Your Research Process
Chapter 7 – Organizing Your Communication
Chapter 8 – Organizing Your Online Research
Chapter 9 – Organizing Your Research Trips
Chapter 10 – Organizing Your Learning
Chapter 11 – Organizing Your Volunteering

While one might think that this book would be best suited to beginning genealogists, I have found some great tips in each chapter, particularly since the use of technology is integrated through the chapters and I have been a genealogy addict for 36 years.

I also especially like that the book begins with organizing one’s self, including the fact that everyone needs to maintain good health and mental sharpness and (oh, no) taking breaks to rejuvenate and regenerate AND ends both genealogical education and a reminder that we all need to give back to the genealogy community in what ever ways we can.

“Drew’s To-Dos” at the end of each chapter offer bulleted review tips, highlighting major points made in the chapter.

I also really like that this isn’t a “one size fits all” methodology. Instead, suggestions can be adapted to fit one’s own style. As a total package, organize your genealogy provides tools to make sure all the “stuff” doesn’t overtake your time and your life.

Many software products and websites are mentioned, which normally would quickly make a book outdated. However, this book is NOT a “how to” research book, it is more of a “how to keep yourself sane with all discoveries” book. Therefore, it is immaterial if one or more of the sites or products reaches the end of its life. The methods are what’s important.

Amazon includes many pages in the “Look Inside” preview. I highly recommend that you take a look at the book, particularly if you are either just starting out on the genealogy trail or if you’ve been doing traditional research for awhile, but are perhaps a bit older and not quite as tech-savvy as the digital natives (the kids born with technology in their hands). If you decide that it’s for you, Amazon Prime offers the book for $17.90. The Kindle version is $12.99. I don’t think you’ll regret it.