Monday, April 20, 2020

Book Review: "Practical Genealogy" by Brian Sheffey -- and a Giveaway Contest!

Brian Sheffey has written a new genealogy methodology book, titled Practical Genealogy: 50 Simple Steps to Research Your Diverse Family History.  It will be released on 12 May 2020.  The book is available to pre-order on Amazon for $16.99 in paperback (179 pages), and is published by Callisto Media.

Brian Sheffey and Donya Williams are genealogists, and write the website and the Genealogy Adventures Live YouTube channel.  

The publicity for this book says:
Uncover facts and mysteries of your ancestors―a clear approach to genealogy.
The pursuit of family history tends to be shaped by several motives, including finding a larger familial historical picture, preserving the past for future generations, and storytelling. Practical Genealogy provides a method for investigating your family history by establishing an understanding of genealogy and the factors, tasks, and obstacles involved in the research. The end goal: find the information necessary to piece together your heritage.
Follow 50 steps that will fill in the puzzle of your lineage. Learn how to perform your own investigation through the lens of real-world obstacles like tracing ancestry through adoptions and orphanages. Practical Genealogy simplifies and breaks down the complex research process into actionable tips that can be conducted over a period of time. And most importantly, no blood test is necessary.
Inside Practical Genealogy you’ll find:
  • Break through barriers―Learn how to negotiate common "brick wall" issues like missing chunks of family history or multiple names found for the same person.
  • Case studies―Examples of actual genealogy research are provided to support the comprehension of each step of your exploration.
  • See the BIG picture―Large fonts and easy-to-read images make learning easy for older adults.
When you take genealogy research into your own hands, your potential for discovery is limitless.
This book is an overview that breaks down the complex genealogical research process into a series of overlapping steps.  It assumes that the reader has little or no experience in researching their genealogy and family history, and provides a wealth of material for the reader to learn, practice and absorb as they start their lifelong journey into learning their family history.  There is more of an emphasis on African-American and Native-American research and resources than in most general "how-to" genealogy books.  

Practical Genealogy is not a voluminous "how-to" book listing every possible resource or methodology used in the genealogy world today.  It is an introductory book, which describes 50 overlapping steps that carry the reader from wanting to learn about their ancestral families and heritage to writing their family's story through the generations.  The steps are relatively short (typically two to five pages) and are in a logical sequence -- setting goals, staying organized, using research outlines and logs, hearing family stories, finding family photos, creating timelines, exploring databases, using published sources, finding genealogy records to document ancestral families, citing sources, exploring local history, understanding migration routes, doing both online and repository research, writing family stories, reflecting on the journey, and much more.  Some of the steps include an image of a pertinent record and discuss how to apply it in the family stories.

There are two appendices (an example family story and source citation examples), a glossary, a resource list, a reference list, and an index in the back of the book.

All-in-all, this is an excellent book for the bookshelf of a beginning genealogist and a public library.  It does not overwhelm the reader, but serves as an introduction to the wonderful and fascinating world of genealogy, family history, heritage, and family stories.


Brian Sheffey and Callisto Media have offered Genea-Musings readers  the opportunity to win a free copy of this book through a contest here.

To enter the contest, please do the following:

1)  Send me an email at with the title "Practical Genealogy" and tell me why you would like a copy of this book.  I also need your postal mailing address in case you win.

2)  Entries must be received by Friday, 1 May 2020 at 11:59 p.m. PDT to be eligible to win.

3)  I will do a random drawing selection of one entry on Saturday, 2 May 2020, and will alert the winner by email, and Callisto Media of the winner's mailing address on or about that date.

4)  This contest is open to U.S. residents ages 18 and up only.  No purchase is necessary. The estimated retail value is $16.99.  


Copyright (c) 2020, Randall J. Seaver

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Teresa said...

Is it American based? Or international? I choose genealogy books for the collection at the library where I work, but we're in Canada, with a lot of British and European ancestors.


Randy Seaver said...


The examples are American based, I think. There is a step for International Resources, but I don't think there is anything specific to Canada, British Isles, or Europe.