Monday 4 November 2013

Review: 'Family History at Your Fingertips'

Family History at Your Fingertips: Genealogy in the Digital Age is the title of a new 148-page, A4-sized paperback from the folk at 'Family Tree' magazine in association with MyHeritage. It is available from WHSmith stores here in the UK at a cost of £7.99.

On the face of it, this colourful brochure looks very much like a beginner's guide - which, essentially, it is, I suppose. But though I've been a family historian / genealogist for 25 years I still found plenty on offer within its pages to point me towards new avenues of research. Things have changed an awful lot for us these past few years and it is easy to fall behind the times - and this little effort brings us all nicely into line with recent developments.

I defy anybody to declare that they know it all and to have exhausted all the ideas outlined in this booklet. For example, I have often thought about things like Skype, YouTube and Flickr and how they can be used for family history research - well, these are a few of the many areas touched upon, together with guidance on the use of social media, online (and off-line) tree-building, 'connecting' across the Web and, of course, how to access all the online material with which we are familiar. Military research, DNA, photographs and mobile 'apps' all receive the treatment; and (despite the publication's title) there is good coverage of the old-fashioned ways, too - i.e. organising your research and using the archives themselves!

You might expect a little bias towards Family Tree magazine and MyHeritage, and this is indeed the case with many passages - but my experiences with both have been very favourable over the years, and there is much to be gained by fully exploiting the freebie MyHeritage CD on the booklet's cover if you're looking for a way to expand your 'tree' into the online world.

You may baulk at coughing up £7.99 for a paperback booklet, but Family History at Your Fingertips compares more than favourably with any of the much more expensive books on the subject matter. It keeps things simple, is written in a friendly/fun manner and is beautifully illustrated. The 'learning journey' that is the study of your family history is endlessly fascinating, and this booklet is the ideal way to help you achieve your genealogical goals. Seek it out if you can - you will learn something new.

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