Tag Archives: Book Reviews

Simple Citations for Genealogical Sources by Jeffry P. La Marca, Ph.D.: Book Review

Every so often, I come across a new-to-me book with a focus on crating genealogical source citations. Although this author and book is new to me, he’s also new to everyone else as this book was published on 1 January 2024.

Jeffry La Marca, the author, notes that this book is based on the citation model he first published on the website SimpleCitations twelve years ago in 2012.

There is an extensive Table of Contents:

This is a very detailed Table of Contents, which I decided to include in its entirety because it’s needed to provide an appropriate overview of all the topics and examples in this book.

I have to admit I was feeling somewhat “on the fence” about how to review this book.

Dr. La Marca mentions in Chapter 3 that others have developed genealogically based source citation systems and, of course, mentions Elizabeth Shown Mills, stating that Evidence Explained is complex and might well be difficult for some researchers to follow and implement.

I think that statement is what is guiding my review today.

I recently finished teaching a 4-class session for beginning genealogists plus I am leading a new genealogy SIG (Special Interest Group) in my local genealogy society. Both groups have a significant number of participants who don’t cite their sources in any way shape or form.

That is an issue which I’ve been addressing and is perhaps the lead-in to my positive recommendation of this book and the Simple Citations system.

Evidence Explained is the gold standard and the standard to which everyone should aspire. On the other hand, Dr. La Marca makes the same point that I’ve made with beginners – if EE is too overwhelming, just think back to those high school and college bibliographies that were required at the end of every research paper we turned in.

The point of providing citations is so the original person OR anybody else is able to locate the same source of information to determine its applicability to one’s own research.


While Evidence Explained is the gold standard, not every details in every citation is necessary to find the same source if and when needed.

Another point that isn’t evident from the title is that Dr. La Marca’s citation templates ARE ALREADY embedded in Roots Magic 9 and Family Historian 7.

Plus, the templates can be tweaked to bring them to Evidence Explained standards or be used to create perfectly adequate citations that meet the standard of providing enough detail so that anyone can find the same source if necessary.

I have to recommend this book for two reasons. First, it gives the “okay” for less experienced researchers to cite their sources, either manually following the steps on paper or with simple templates. both methods work.

Second, because the templates are already part of two well known genealogy software programs, they can be slightly modified to meet EE standards.

I also like that this book offers a short users’ guide to work with these templates because I personally get very frustrated with the template directions in the software manuals.

Simple Citations for Genealogical Sources by Jeffry P. La Marca, Ph.D. and published on 1 January 2024 can be purchased online for $32.95 plus shipping. No Kindle version is available at this time.

Cradled in Sweden by Carl-Erik Johansson: Book Review

Cradled in Sweden by Carl-Erik Johansson has been in my reference library for quite some time. Recently, I began reading through it again and realized that, in spite of being written in 2002 and in spite of the author’s stated goal for the book to guide researchers through Swedish records held on microfilm in the FamilySearch Library, this book is a necessary handbook for those researching Swedish roots.

Yes, the book was written during the childhood of the internet, long before ArkivDigital was founded, but it still is invaluable.

Contents

  1. The Language
  2. The Country
  3. Names of Places
  4. Names of Persons
  5. Archives
  6. Fixed and Movable Feast Days
  7. Handwriting
  8. Emigration Records
  9. Parish Registers
  10. Clerical Survey Records
  11. Census Records and Land Records
  12. Court Records
  13. Military Records
  14. Genealogical Associations, Magazines and Printed Books
  15. Chronology
  16. List of Swedish and Finnish Army Units
  17. Swedish Army Units
  18. Swedish Probate Records and Indexes
  19. Mormon Congregations (GRENAR) in Sweden 1852-1950
  20. Some Diseases and Causes of Death
  21. Money, Weight and Measure
  22. Pedigree Chart Numbering
  23. Genealogical Associations in Sweden
  24. Addresses to Local Tax Authorities
  25. Alphabetical Index of All Parishes in Sweden
  26. Word List
    Bibliography

Quite a few years passed from my discovery of a Swedish mother for my 2X great grandfather, Frits Wille Oskar Emil Jensen and learning that my Swedish 3X great grandmother was Johanna Elisabeth Molin from Öved, Sweden.

Once I knew that, my first foray into Swedish records were the church books. If I owned Cradled in Sweden at that time, I would have immediately opened to Chapters 9 and 10.

Chapter 9 gives the history of parish registers vs. civil registration and provides an in-depth look at examples of the many available records, right down to what each column entry means. Chapter 10 covers the clerical survey records (often called the household examination records, which were updated yearly by the minister. These records are even more valuable than a typical census record because of the amount of detail they include. In addition to naming each person in the home plus their exact dates of birth, the minister “examined” each person in terms of their religious knowledge. Not only are the levels of religious knowledge and understanding identified, the marking system used to “grade” the quality of knowledge is explained (e.g. differentiation between knows well” and “also knows by heart.” Social behavior grades are also noted. The chapter ends with some farmer occupational definitions.

Chapter 7 discusses various handwriting styles used through time. My strong point isn’t reading records from the 1700s! This chapter gives examples of various cursive choices for lower and upper case letters along with examples of names written in the old style.

When finding the date an event took place, it isn’t always evident exactly when it happened because some church books identify dates by the church calendar, which includes fixed and movable feast days. When did Jubilate 1777 happen? Well, Jubilate is the 3rd Sunday after Easter. Easy to find in Chapter 6.

Chapter 13 is excellent for those wanting to find a soldier in the family.

The chapter titles provide an excellent overview of many of the types of Swedish records that are available. In 2024, instead of traveling to Salt Lake City and pulling the microfilm out of the drawer, researchers would head to ArkivDigital, the subscription site, and to excellent digital images of the desired records.

It could be argued that Chapters 14 and 22 are outdated. In terms of addresses, I have to agree. However, I sample searched a number of the societies and associations and found almost all are still in existence. Much better than the street addresses in the book are their websites, packed with links and contact information, usually by e-mail.

Other goodies found in this book – list of military surnames, span of years found in each probate district, explanation of all the records kept by the minister, a detailed explanation of the various types of archives in Sweden and, last but not least, Chapter 25 lists every single parish in Sweden.

There is so much handy information in this 2002 book that it is worth purchasing, especially given the reasonable price.

I love, love, love this book! If you have Swedish ancestry, it should be in your personal book collection. New, hardcover 2002 editions of the book can be purchased for as little as $20.00.

The Deerfield Massacre by James L. Swanson: Book Review

A few weeks ago, on American Ancestors, I listened to author James L. Swanson talk about his new book, The Deerfield Massacre.

Although I love books, I generally find that author presentations don’t do much to encourage me to purchase a book. This event required a ticket – $12.50 or $45.00 for a ticket and a signed copy of the book.

I opted for the ticket and the book for one reason only. My ancestors Benjamin Burt (1680-1759)and wife Sarah Belden (1682-after 14 December 1730) not only lived in Deerfield, but were among the 100+ captives taken on the forced march to Canada.

On 29 February 1704, a combined force of French and allied Indian tribes, struck the town, killed many, burned homes and took captives.

Not only did Benjamin and Sarah survive the 300 mile trek north, which was amazing especially for Sarah, who was 7 1/2 months pregnant with her first child, but they and son Christopher, born 14 April 1704 in Montreal, Canada were eventually ransomed.

Their second child, a son named Seaborn who was, of course, born at sea on 4 July 1706 on the way back to Boston, is my ancestor through my maternal grandmother.

My connection to Deerfield is what drew me to attend American Ancestors’ online visit with the author.

To be honest, the interview held my interest for a few minutes and I was really waiting for the book to arrive in a couple of weeks.

Arrive it did and my first reaction was disappointment about the “signed” copy. Yes, the author’s signature is in the front of the book. However, Swanson signed labels which someone else, I’m sure, affixed to the book pages. That’s not really my idea of an author-signed copy because he likely never even held my book and he certainly didn’t inscribe his name on a page of the book.

That wasn’t the end of the world and I eagerly started reading the account of the Deerfield attack. I learned a lot from the first half of the book – Parts I – A History of Superstition, Violence, and Massacre and II – The Aftermath: Captivity and a Test of Faith.

It told the story of the complete shock of the colonists, living on the Massachusetts frontier, being attacked in the dead of winter, which they never expected.

Many of the captives, unable to keep up in the march to Canada, were killed by the Indians along the way.

Those who survived had a mixed experience in Canada, with some held by Indian families and some kept as servants in French families.

Some chose to remain in Canada even when given the opportunity to return home, but many most definitely wanted to return to New England. The latter group included my Burt ancestors.

The Burts were mentioned in passing by the author, mostly, I believe, because it was memorable that Sarah gave birth to Seaborn on the voyage home.

Part III – Memory, Myth, and Legend, which is the second half of the book, discusses how Deerfield reacted to the attack and then delves into a review of all the commemorations, programs, pageants and other activities/products that have been created through the centuries.

That half of the book was not very interesting and I would have preferred a summary of those activities in the Epilogue.

This was my first experience paying for an author talk and receiving a signed book. I don’t think I’d do it again. For $45.00, it was a bit disappointing.

However, if you are interested in the 1704 Deerfield Massacre or, perhaps like me are descended from residents who experienced that awful night, our favorite online website has this book priced at $22.17 for hardcover or $14.99 on Kindle. I’m a bit sorry I didn’t just go the Kindle route, which is a great price for a well researched explanation of the attack.