#AtoZChallenge - H is for Handbooks, Handwriting, Historical Fiction and Hathi Trust Digital Library

We all have our favourite handbooks I am sure when it comes to genealogy and family history.  Whilst some of the information may be out of date (organisations change their names, physical street addresses and URL addresses) I still refer to Nick Vine-Hall's Tracing Your Family History in Australia because it is set out so logically: state by state, then subjects e.g. immigration, religion and then location of records and record types and then territories.  What a godsend that book has been.

On a different topic, to be sure, but similar in its lovely logical layout is Tracing Your Irish Ancestors by John Grenham.

Have you got a favourite handbook?  

Handwriting - when I first started out in this hobby I quickly became aware that I would need to learn a thing or two about Reading old handwriting.  Eve McLaughlin's little guide is full of great information and tips and images to set you on the right path. Eve is the Secretary and Editor of the Buckinghamshire Genealogical Society.  I don't know what I would have done without her lovely little guides over the years.  They are usually slim little volumes (this one is 20 pages) but it comes with a Bibliography and chatty observations of interest probably only to family historians e.g. 

"The problem capitals are S and L which look remarkably similar, causing readers to claim a Lawyer as ancestor when he was a Sawyer" (p.3)

Of course nowadays there are fabulous online tutorials to guide you as well such as this TNA palaeography tutorial here.

Addendum: and this great link  via Crissouli's blog today.

Historical Fiction - sometimes we need a break from all the facts and want to let our mind wander and imagine what it might have been like for our ancestors.  What better way than some historical fiction.  Looking for your next great historical fiction read?  With your library card you can access some great databases to help you find your next book. The library service I work for has a page here with some suggested resources.  Books and Authors is a great database where you can search by genre and then historical era e.g. Regency or War of 1812.  Daniel S Burt has written a great article on this site about historical fiction which is worth reading.  At the end of the article, Daniel recommends some great reference guides for historical fiction and some great websites such as the Historical Novel Society and Of Ages Past .  Who else writes like?  is another great database.

Hathi Trust Digital Library 

This is a partnership of research libraries from around the world including such institutions as the New York Public Library, Library of Congress, Princeton University, Standford University and University of Queensland offering a collection of digitized titles.  You can search the collection here either by full text or catalogue.  You can search user-created collections and yes, there is one created by sarokin called Ancestry and Genealogy.  It was last updated in 2011 so I'm thinking you would find many more additional titles to the 2760 that sarokin found. You can find a user's guide to the Hathi Trust Digital Library here.

Hallelujah!  That's H done.  Hit me with your handy hints for setting up a terrific genealogy library.


Unknown said…
An interesting and useful tutorial :) My mum has dabbled a bit in family research, but only through ancestry.com. This sounds much more in depth.
Ros from Fangirl Stitches
Alex Daw said…
Hi Ros - thanks so much for visiting my blog. I love Ancestry and have found so many fellow researchers there and it is a great tool. But wait, there's so much more!
Random Musings said…
I've never really considered tracing my ancestry - I more a look to the future kind but its really interesting to read about other people's experiences of it
Anne Young said…
Hathi trust is brilliant. I really should revisit my handbooks more instead of relying on the internet - they have wonderful ideas. One hint with handwriting is to trace over the letters - and of course look for recognisable words with the same letters - yes have at least one Sawyer who looks like a Lawyer but I know he is not. As for historical fiction, when I was a teenager I loved Georgette Heyer. She used newspapers as source material and remembering her novels gives me real insights into some of my family stories.

H is for the Cudmore family arrival in Hobart in 1835

Anne Young

Anne's family history
My husband is interested in genealogy and would be more qualified to recommend books on the subject than me.

Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Science Fiction/Fantasy Author
crgalvin said…
Hey, I'm getting all the handy hints right here, 18 letters to go, 2 or 3 hints in each post - thanks and well done. ��
TravelGenee said…
Handy Hint - I read somewhere that the person kept a list of all the books she had purchased on Evernote because she had purchased some duplicates when at conference. So easy to purchase duplicates when you end up with a mixture books and ebooks for genealogy.
Cathy Kennedy said…
I started our family tree a few years ago and I really need to get back at it. Old handwriting is tricky to read. I think that's why there are so many mistakes recorded in how a person's name is spelled. You have to have good sluething abilities to figure this stuff out.

~Curious as a Cathy
#AprilA2Z Art Sketching Through the Alphabet Letter "H" + #4M
I've never been able to fathom Hathi Trust Digital Library but I just used your link and found that I was able to get in will have to go back now and spend some time there.
Thanks for sharing.

Dropping by from the A to Z Challenge


Sandra, Aspiring family historian, fellow participant in the #AtoZchallenge

Sandra's Ancestral Research Journal
You're so right about handwriting. I had Zing ancestors listed as "Ling" on a ship's manifest --that was a fun search, I can tell you. And Hathi Trust is an absolute treasure!
S. Lincecum said…
I really like the Hathi Trust library - definitely a good tip. Thanks for the link to the Historical Novel Society. I'm sure I'll be exploring that one more.
Unknown said…
I took a wander through all your posts. This is super helpful for anyone wanting to do this research. Well done.
PJ said…
Thanks for the great post - whenever I get a chance I look into my family history so this was really useful. I'm from Australia but now living in Scotland which is where one side of my family came from.

Pamela @ Highlands Days of Fun
Crissouli said…
I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS on FRIDAY FOSSICKING at


Thank you. Chris
Alex Daw said…
Thank you dear Chris. And thanks Pamela for your kind comments. Oh to live in Scotland! I hope I visit there again before I depart this mortal coil. Thank you everyone for your kind words and handy hints. Much appreciated.

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