Fam­ily His­tory Web Direc­tory: The Ge­nealog­i­cal Web­sites You Can’t Do With­out

By Jonathan Scott

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(Pen & Sword, 240 pages, £14.99) Al­though search en­gines prom­ise ac­cess to mil­lions of web­sites, in prac­tice there are not more than a cou­ple of hun­dred that are likely to prove use­ful to fam­ily his­to­ri­ans.

You can prob­a­bly name the key ones: Ances­try, Find­my­past, Fam­i­lysearch, Wikipedia and The Na­tional Ar­chives closely fol­lowed by FreeBMD, Genuki, Genes Re­united and The­Ge­neal­o­gist.

But what if th­ese sites don’t have what you are look­ing for? What if there’s a spe­cial­ist site that can help solve a fam­ily mys­tery or where you can share some par­tic­u­lar en­thu­si­asm?

This is where books such as Jonathan Scott’s come in. He’s done the hard work by vis­it­ing hun­dreds of web­sites to en­sure that you don’t have to. And there are de­tails of many in­valu­able ex­am­ples you would have to scroll through page af­ter page on Google to find, from the Se­cond An­glo-Afghan War of 1880 to por­traits of pris­on­ers in Bath’s gaol.

The direc­tory is ar­ranged by sub­ject, such as the census, tax­a­tion, news­pa­pers and so on. Clev­erly, there are links be­tween the sec­tions where ap­pro­pri­ate so if you are look­ing through web­sites on army his­tory you are re­minded that there is a sec­tion on the mili­tia, too.

Per­haps inevitably there’s some du­pli­ca­tion with the same in­for­ma­tion ap­pear­ing in dif­fer­ent places. In part this is be­cause so much in­for­ma­tion is now con­cen­trated on just a few web­sites. And un­for­tu­nately some of the de­scrip­tions of in­di­vid­u­al­ndi­vid­ual sites are so brief as to be al­most use­less. This is clearly a per­sonal choice. Other writ­ers might have rec­om­mended other web­sites.

Jonathan Scott has had more than a decade writ­ing about ge­neal­ogy on­line and his knowl­edge, en­thu­si­asm and good hu­mour shines through in this very use­ful book.

Si­mon Fowler is a pro­fes­sional

writer and his­tory re­searcher

Jonathan Scott’s new book looks at es­sen­tial ge­neal­ogy web­sites

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