Friday, February 17, 2012

Review - "QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases & Indexes"

The Genealogical Publishing Company in Baltimore has published another in its series of "QuickSheet" laminated research guides - this time for The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases & Indexes by Elizabeth Shown Mills.

This QuickSheet booklet has four laminated pages on one 11" x 17" paper (folded). It is designed to give the user the basic guidelines for genealogy research in the allotted space, and provide an overview of the facts a researcher needs to know in order to begin and proceed successfully with research in the subject.

The premise of this QuickSheet is that while databases and indexes are valuable tools for research, they can actually impede the research process. We all know that databases and indexes can shortcut the process of discovery, and many search engines offer wildcard and Boolean options, as well as phonetic indexing systems to help researchers contend with clerical carelessness and data-entry errors. But historical records involve vagaries that defy technical formulas. Databases and indexes then become obstacles that actually block discoveries. Enter Elizabeth Mills, who in this QuickSheet shows how to adopt pro-active strategies to overcome this problem and thus get the full benefit of databases and indexes.

The  QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases & Indexes folder has these major subjects:

*  The Basic Premise
*  Pro-Active Strategies for using databases and indexes
*  Major Considerations - including Erratic spelling, Family names vs. surnames, Female name usage, Penmanship, Regional dialects, Translations and adaptations, Composition of finding aids, including Arrangement of entries and Selection criteria applied.
*  Common Anomalies and Errors - a table of record types with the typical problems encountered and examples.

This booklet is designed primarily for the historical biographer who is trying to use online or offline databases and indexes to find historical records to help reconstruct a person's life. The information included in this QuickSheet embraces the well-known Genealogical Proof Standard, and extends the user's knowledge by offering examples of the anomalies and errors that may occur when searching many different record types.

For someone like me that teaches and talks about genealogy a bit, the QuickSheet format is invaluable because I can pull it out and provide some guidance to my student or colleague interested in the subject.

The beauty of these QuickSheet folders is that they are very light and portable in a briefcase or laptop case. They are fixtures in my research case.

This four-page laminated booklet costs $8.95, plus postage and handling (4th Class Mail $5.50; FedEx Ground Service in the USA, $7.50). You can order it through the Genealogical  Store, or use the link for the 
QuickSheet: The Historical Biographer's Guide to Finding People in Databases & Indexes folder and click on the "Add to Cart" link. 

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Copyright (c) Randall J. Seaver, 2012.

Disclosure: contacted me recently and asked me to provide a review of this booklet. They mailed me a review copy for my personal use as remuneration for this review.

1 comment:

KAM Chapman said...

Thanks for doing the review - and the disclosure too. ;) It helps to have a more in depth explanation of what will be found on one of these resources before buying or not. Sounds like another good one to add to my other quicksheets.