Monday, December 7, 2009

Book Review of The Genealogist's Address Book

The Genealogist’s Address Book provides almost 800 pages of state and local genealogy resources. Elizabeth Petty Bentley has compiled an amazing amount of information and genealogy contacts in this recently updated 6th edition.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section focuses on the United States. There are sections devoted to contact information for National Archives, federal government departments and agencies, U.S. libraries, societies (national) and publications. There are also sections for each state. These groupings have statewide resources listed first, then localized resources listed by county.

The second part of The Genealogist’s Address Book is titled “Special Resources” and concentrates on contact information for archives and libraries with specific ethnic categories, religious categories, lineage societies, genealogy products and smaller miscellaneous subjects.

Bentley states that the information compiled within the book is “based largely upon data received in response to direct-mail and email questionnaires, supplemented by information from printed and Internet sources.” This begs the question: what happens if a repository doesn’t answer an inquiry? Is the information from the 5th edition used instead? It would seem to be the case, at least in one instance where a national library’s contact/staff information is considerably outdated.

Other issues found include sources misplaced in the wrong county (at least in one instance: my county) and the author’s web site being inaccessible thanks to GeoCities demise. These observances aren’t necessarily criticisms as much as an illustration of how quickly this type of information can change, rendering a book obsolete.

Bottom line: The Genealogist’s Address Book isn’t a must-have item, but you shouldn’t reject one delivered to your door. It is worth a look. Try to track down a copy through your public/academic library system (or inter-library loan) and browse it occasionally for genealogy contacts and new research repository leads.

The Genealogist’s Address Book – 6th Edition

Elizabeth Petty Bentley

ISBN 978-0-8063-1796-0

Genealogical Publishing Company

[Edit 12 Jan 2010: Comments on this post are currently suspended due to spam (in Spanish, no less). If you have any comments, you can email me at the address I listed in the sidebar of this blog. Thanks. --Amy]

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