Has anyone else read Val Greenwood’s book?

Good evening!

Tomorrow night is my third class of the Genealogy and Family History class at UW.   So I spent last night reading Greenwood’s book, as the reading assignment ws chapters, 4, 7, 10 and 12.  Here are my short summations:

Chapter 4: Evaluation of Evidence:  This chapter was written after ESM wrote her book Evidence! and after she wrote the seminal article in the NGS Quarterly.  It’s hard for me to understand why he explains that he rewrote the chapter from his previous edition, references the Evidence! in his footnotes and then proceeds to describe the attributes of 6 different types of evidence (direct, circumstantial, primary, secondary, collateral, hearsay).  No wonder it was confusing.

Chapter 7: Organizing and Evaluating Research Findings:  This was a perplexing chapter to have as a first reading assignment.  The author spends an inordinate amount of time discussing his paper methodology of recording his sources and findings.  Certainly important and important to know about earlier rather than later in your genealogical career.  I question whether his system is 1.) too labor intensive  for most and 2.) if a simpler system could be derived; 3.) a recognition of a computer’s capability of managing this data would have been helpful. I want to talk about the recording of information not found and see if others have developed a great system for doing this.  I actually like my system for recording sources and information not found but I am always interested in improving it.  Let me know how you do this.

Chapter 10: Family History: Going beyond Genealogy:  I have always been more interested in the stories than the dates.  The stories are hard to get, especially in my family of non-story tellers…..and so sometimes I have to rely on the facts to “tell” the story.  In this chapter I think Mr. Greenwood “gets it right”.  We do need to “reach beyond the vital statistics….”  Starting on page 173, he covers a lot of historical questions one could ask as one explores the mores of the community to which our ancestors belonged.  You might find his questions interesting.

Chapter 12: Vital Records:  This provided an historical look at the development of the recording of vital statistics and the census.  I had not thought of how/why we started recording these events at the civil level.  It was a particularly interesting topic.

Happy Hunting!


What I have done since the last post:  Read and commented in the margins (you do annotate your books don’t you?) on the reading assignment for my class.


3 comments on “Has anyone else read Val Greenwood’s book?

  1. N. P. Maling says:

    Modernists like us might wonder about the different forms of evidence evaluation and organizing materials, but to old-timers they are how things got done. Greenwood’s evidence chapter is a discussion rooted in the origins of the Researcher’s Guide, way back in the 1970s. Likewise for the records organizing. William Dollarhide’s ‘Managing a Genealogical Project’ is similarly out-of-date. Both need an overhaul. Perhaps Greenwood’s will come out in a 4th edition someday. In the meantime, Mills’ ‘Professional Genealogy’ business materials organization concepts can be extended to other genealogy records, so you have a good direction to look for the future.

  2. I have only made it to Chapter 7 in Greenwood’s book so far (part of the Genealogists in SecondLife Book Club), but I agree with your assessment. Very labor-intensive as far as filing systems go. The system that I use integrates paper and digital files, though they are identical in their setup.

    I also (now) use a specific form for tracking my research for each separate fact. Those are kept on my computer. I’ll be making a blog post about that shortly (I hope).

    I’m really enjoying reading your blog — I hope to actually buckle down and get into the certification process myself, and your blog is really helping me understand everything that’s required. Keep up the good work!

    • jkmorelli says:

      I am intrigued by the SL book club I will check that out.
      I hope that you will post the way you track your research. That would be very helpful to me.
      And, thanks for the encouragement about the blog. I rarely know if I am reaching anyone. (However, I admit that I did not start this to reach a lot of people….I did it so I had a journal of this process.)


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