Marleta Childs
P. O. Box 6825
LUBBOCK, TX 79493-6825

     Another recent addition to the popular “Genealogy at a Glance” series is Alabama Genealogy Research, compiled by Michael A. Ports. Like the previous titles in the set, this guide provides an overview of fundamental information researchers must know to navigate successfully through the various genealogical resources in the Yellowhammer State, which receives its nickname from the state bird.

     Because the study of genealogy is intertwined with history, Ports supplies basic background details about the state’s settlement. Such knowledge is particularly important since documents were written in different languages as the area became under the influence of various countries. The author explains, for example, that the French established the first settlement in what would become Alabama in 1702. Nine years later, they relocated the city of Mobile to its present location. Until the end of the French and Indian War in 1763, the French maintained control of the territory encompassed by the modern counties of Baldwin and Mobile. That part of Alabama, which officially became part of British West Florida in 1763, remained under Britain’s control under 1783. The Spanish captured Mobile in 1780, however, and thereby gained control of Spanish West Florida, which the United States annexed in 1812.

     Knowledge about the state’s settlement is also important because jurisdiction and control over the area north of Baldwin and Mobile counties were disputed for years. At the end of the Revolutionary War, for instance, Georgia and South Carolina laid claim to portions of the territory, which they ceded in 1804. The federal government organized the Mississippi Territory in 1798, which composed roughly the southern halves of the modern states of Alabama and Mississippi. In 1817, the federal government formed the Alabama Territory from the eastern part of the Mississippi Territory. Alabama became a state in 1819.

     About half of the guide pertains to several traditional state and county genealogical materials. In this section, Ports discusses vital (for example, statewide registration of births and deaths began in 1908), probate, and military records.

     Next, Ports devotes space to supplemental resources, particularly land records and state censuses. Since different nations controlled the area before the United States took over, he reminds researchers that French colonial land grants are in the national archives in Paris, British ones are in the national archives in London, and Spanish grants are in the archives in Seville. He also mentions that Alabama conducted four of its own population censuses, some of which are only partially extant.

     The remainder of the guide contains information about additional resources. Ports furnishes the names, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and websites of some of Alabama’s major repositories. He also supplies the websites of helpful online sources, along with a brief synopsis of the data that can be found on them.

     Following the standard format of the series, Ports condenses into four laminated pages an enormous amount of information into its basic components. A handy and compact guide, Alabama Genealogy Research will be useful to family researchers whose roots extend back to this region of the South.

     To the guide's price of $9.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.50 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional copy; for FedEx or UPS Ground Service, the cost is $8.50 for one copy and $3.50 for each additional copy. The guide (item order 4664) may be purchased by check, money order, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211-1953. For phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

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