Ruth's Genealogy

“I don't know who my grandfather was; I am much more concerned to know what his grandson will be.” -Abraham Lincoln

For which genealogy how-to book are you most thankful? Who wrote the book and why does it stand out in your eyes? Is the book currently available? How can other genealogists benefit from its content?

Several years ago, book vendor Barnes & Noble offered free online courses known as Barnes and Noble (BNU). All you had to do was purchase whatever books were used for each class. Assignments, online discussions, knowledgeable instructors, BNU had it all. I enrolled in several of these classes, including U S history, website construction and genealogy-related courses. I learned how to code a website using HTML from BNU. It was a wonderful learning experience!

The genealogy course offered by BNU was called “Unpuzzling Your Past”, based on the text and workbook written by Emily Anne Croom. It was a beginner-level class with Ms Croom as the instructor!

Since the first edition in 1983, Unpuzzling Your Past has helped thousands of genealogists start collecting and preserving their family history or refreshing and honing their research skills. A practical guide for teachers and students alike, Unpuzzlingis a popular textbook for genealogy classes, including the class of the same name online at Barnes and Noble

Carrying on the tradition of the first edition, the fourth edition includes:

  • aids for interviewing relatives and gathering data from family sources
  • comprehensive information on using federal census records
  • guide to cemetery, newspaper, and courthouse research and use of state and federal records of many kinds
  • illustrations, research examples, and an in-depth case study
  • useful forms, including federal census extraction forms for 1790 through 1930 censuses and a unique family group sheet that encourages documentation of data
  • a chapter on handwriting of the past
  • reference lists, bibliographies, glossary, relationship chart

This wonderful text/workbook and class is what really set me on the path to serious genealogical research, not just name-collecting. I can think of no better way to get started in genealogy!


52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy by Amy Coffin is a series of weekly blogging prompts (one for each week of 2012) that invite genealogists and others to discuss resources in the genealogy community including websites, applications, libraries, archives, genealogical societies and more. You do not have to be a blogger to participate. If you do not have a genealogy blog, write down your thoughts on your computer, or simply record them on paper and keep them with your files.

%d bloggers like this: