Kinsearching November 16, 2008




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

     What do you do when you hit the proverbial brick wall in your family research? Do you try to escape problems by reading murder mysteries? What if there was a manual that combines genealogical expertise with literary methods of deduction? Would that volume spur your interest and inspire you to try harder? If your answer is "yes," you have found the perfect guidebook: THE SLEUTH BOOK FOR GENEALOGISTS by Emily Ann Croom.

     Gleaning advice from selected literary detectives ranging from Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple to Perry Mason and Kinsey Millhone, Croom presents an unique perspective on "unpuzzling" genealogical roadblocks. As stated in her foreword, she employs this unusual approach since the same principles and methods apply to deciphering "whodunit" and tracing ancestors. Because genealogy and history are interconnected, the author also quotes from Josephine Tey's historical mystery, THE DAUGHTER OF TIME, sometimes utilized for assigned reading in academic history classes. Using the various sleuths' acknowledged proficiency in the investigative arts, her handbook helps genealogists to determine research goals, focus on specific questions, organize what information is known, reconstruct "clusters" (extended family, neighbors, and friends, for instance) for research clues, document evidence properly, and evaluate data.

     Perhaps as an acknowledgement of the wide usage of computers today in the field of genealogy, Croom often places icons on the sides of the text's paragraphs to emphasize various points. By attracting the reader's attention, icons such as a light bulb, a clock, and a pencil point alert individuals to idea generators, timesavers, and tips for efficient research.

     Case studies and research examples abound throughout the text. Subjects of some of the investigations are an Illinois Civil War veteran, a former Mississippi slave, and a Tennessee farm wife. Illustrating genealogical detective work in action, the analyses take readers step by step through the process of solving frustrating research difficulties.

     By letting fictional literary detectives show how solving any perplexing riddle can be fun, Croom hopes to encourage genealogists to examine their research from different viewpoints that may lead to new breakthroughs. Written in an entertaining and down-to-earth manner, THE SLEUTH BOOK FOR GENEALOGISTS offers helpful, practical advice to both beginning and experienced family researchers in an imaginative style.

     The 290-page paperback has an attractive cover and contains an "at-a-glance" table of contents as well as an annotated table of contents, a list of icons utilized throughout the book, a foreword, an introduction, charts and reproductions of documents, two appendices, endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. To the book's price of $34.95, buyers should add the cost for postage and handling charges. For U. S. postal mail, the cost is $5.00 for one book or the first volume of a set and $2.50 for each additional copy or each additional volume of a set; for UPS, the cost is $7.00 for one copy and $2.50 for each additional book. The volume (item order #1221) may be purchased by check, MasterCard, or Visa from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 3600 Clipper Mill Rd., Suite 260, Baltimore, Maryland 21211-1953 (for phone orders, call toll free 1-800-296-6687; fax 1-410-752-8492; website

     How is the economy affecting your reunion plans? Where will reunions fit in these troubled financial times? Reunions Magazine would like to know. If you will fill out a brief survey online, you can sign up for a free subscription to the periodical, which is published five times annually. The website may be found at

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