Book Review: Organize Your Genealogy

Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies And Solutions For Every Researcher, by Drew Smith

In reading a book like this one I am of two minds, and they tend to work against each other as far as my appreciation of the book and its materials. It is hard to tell which of the impressions is dominant, but both of them are present for me when I am reading this book and it is a somewhat uncomfortable feeling. On the one hand, in reading this book I was given a lot of ideas about what to do if I ever make a home office to do my own genealogy research in, as a way of keeping the data and case files organized. This is obviously a positive feeling, and one that leads me to think well of the book. But on the other hand there is at the same time a kind of nagging feeling that this book is written not so much from a desire to help a genealogist to be more organized as much as it is to make money from promoting various companies that sell to a target demographic that I happen to be a part of. It is indeed very possible that both motives are at play, where the author is making an obvious cash grab in this book but happens to sincerely believe in the products that he is pushing.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages long but many of them are pictures or photos and so the book is by no means a dense one textually. The book begins with the author’s discussion of the reader organizing themselves (1). This is followed by a discussion about how the reader is to organize their space, presumably in a home office (2). This is followed by discussions of how one is to organize their goals (3) and also their notes and ideas (4). After this the author moves to a more practical matter and discusses how one is to organize their files (5) as well as their research process (6). The writer is obviously seeking to promote themselves as a well-organized person. This is followed by a discussion of how one can organize their communication (7) and online research (8). This is then followed by an interesting discussion of how to organize research trips (9), as that is something I would like to do with regards to family history personally. The book then looks at hoe one organizes learning (10) as well as volunteering (11). The book ends with a conclusion, appendix and index.

Whether or not this book is appealing to you as a reader depends on several things. First off, are you a genealogist? If you are not interested in writing sustained projects about family history that need to be organized and that need proper citations of where one has gotten evidence and so and so forth, this book is simply not going to be appealing. Beyond that, a reader’s feelings about this book are going to be strongly influenced by how much they are bothered by the author’s apparent sponsorship by various companies that sell products and software and services that can be of help to someone seeking to organize and produce their own material about family history. To the extent that the reader is perfectly fine or fond of such references, then this book will be easy to enjoy. To the extent that the author is irritated by a focus on selling things rather than doing things for oneself, this book will likely annoy the reader a bit. My own feelings were somewhat divided, but the subject matter is interesting enough to give this book a cautious and at least partial recommendation.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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