"Beyond the age of information is the age of choices." Charles Eames. Hartman, Carla and Eames Demetrios. 100 Quotes by Charles Eames, p. 40.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Every Person Has a History

Vickers, Rebecca. Every Person Has a History. Chicago, Illinois: Heinemann Library, 2014. ISBN 978-1-4329-9584-3. Paperback, $8.99; library binding, $31.50; 64 pages.

These days, it seems as if everyone wants to know the details of other people's lives. As genealogists, we're usually digging into histories of long-gone ancestors. Vickers puts her own spin on this type of research by discussing how to uncover personal history about anyone--from a rock star to a military hero to great-grandpa.

In short chapters, she introduces beginning research techniques that middle- and high school students can use to obtain different types of records, such as military, obituary, and census, for people like Wilma Rudolph and Winston Churchill. She also touches on the nature of evidence, and how to evaluate and distinguish between primary and secondary sources. Attempts are made to guide students to libraries, websites, and government offices--in most cases, directions are not enough specific enough to be useful. The author's knowledge of the subject, the resources, and the methodology is evident. However, this is a 64-page book aimed at students who probably have minimal exposure to personal history research.  Given the many aspects of personal history research tackled by Vickers, a longer book is in order. In its current edition, I believe it's overly ambitious to expect most students to independently--or successfully--use this book.

Many colorful illustrations as well as a glossary, index, and sources for further research are included. The book is part of Heinemann's Everything Has a History series.

Recommended as supplementary material for libraries, schools and organizations that specialize in introducing young researchers to genealogy and family history.

A genealogy/family history book by a respected publisher is always worth reviewing.  Being able to borrow Every Person Has a Story for free from my local library made it irresistible. It was definitely worth reviewing, but I can't recommend it as introduction to family history for students. The book is available in both paperback and library reinforced binding formats.

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