Monday, February 18, 2013

Book Review: Understanding Documents for Genealogy and Local History

Hello All:

Well, just got another book in the mail this morning.  It is one that I have been waiting to get since Christmas.  It is Dr. Bruce Durie's new book called, "Understanding Documents for Genealogy & Local History."  It is just newly published, so I have to wait a bit longer for it to come in from Amazon.  I haven't yet really read it cover to cover, but I just wanted to give my first impressions of it since I have had it. 



From the first glances through it, it does read similar to Dr. Durie's book "Scottish Genealogy."  However, it seems to go deeper than that with its focus on old documents (hence the name of the book).  It goes heavy into Latin, old terms found in the older documents, old handwriting (ie: palaeography), etc.  The book is seperated into three parts:  part 1 is entitled "Reading the Documents"; part 2 is called "The Documents"; and part 3 is "Glossaries."  The book is 448 pages including the index. 

It is a book that is mainly focused on Scottish legal documents, such as the Sasines, Kirk Sessions, Tailzies, etc. But, it also has chapters on English documents too.  It is a book that any UK genealogist can use and find helpful.  One of the great things about this book is that it gives examples of the documents and delves into how to read them - the structure of the documents.  In reading many of these old documents they followed a sort of legal formula, which does help when you know how to read them and what to look for - the formula tends to be similar with each document and you can step over the legal jardon and get to the nitty gritty of the who, what, when, and where.  In a way it has the feel of a college or university textbook - it really wouldn't be a book for a beginner to genealogy or family history.  It is definitely a book for someone who has had a bit of experience in researching their family and have gotten to the point of using the older documents (pre-1700s) and this is where this book will be very helpful. 

As I have said in the beginning, I have only really ran through the book at first glances, but from what I have read and seen in this new book by Dr. Durie it is a very good and needed reference book. I would say that it is a book that is important to have as it is such a great reference book for the old documents - it is one that is all one would need really as it is so jam packed full of information. 

Until Next Time . . . .

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