Review: History for Genealogists

Judy Jacobson’s History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors is an expansion of the time line concept that I wrote about in my 2009 article, Estimating Dates. The first part of Jacobson’s book provokes questions about where your ancestors were, what were the conditions there, when they left, why, and how they went. The overall focus is toward how a United States genealogist might work, however, so you might consider this if you live elsewhere. A number of discussions include military and other violent upheavals, persecution and crime, and disease. One chapter considers people who didn’t leave records for several reasons, including some early cultures in North America, such as the Melungeons. The chapter on how they might have gone considers transportation methods and the next chapter considers North American migration trails.

Almost half of the book consists of lists of events around the world, including Asia, the Asian Pacific Islands, and the Indian subcontinent. The events are organized by major land-mass and chronologically, although there is overlap between them.

The copy in hand is 5.5″ × 8.5″ although the Genealogical Publishing Company website advertises it as 8.5″ × 11″. With the smaller version, set entirely in a sans serif face (Arial/Helvetica), the text was harder to read. The footnotes are even smaller and missing proper italics on the titles mentioned. Make sure you get the larger size.