Family History Research

Book Reviews – Women’s Research and Storytelling

on June 27, 2010

Today I would like to present three wonderful resources for researching the women in your family.

Discovering Your Female Ancestors by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack is a very descriptive sourcebook on resources for women. Her introduction discusses the lack of stories about our women in our family histories. Her chapters cover topics such as Sources Created by Women; Sources Created About Women; Writing about Women Ancestors; and A Case Study. The book’s appendices cover Legal Rights; Genetics; and an extensive Source Checklist.  Her book ends with Notes, and Index and a detailed bibliography broken out by category. This book has been extremely helpful in my research and I refer to it again and again.

The Hidden Half of the Family by Christina Schaefer is another sourcebook for women’s research but it differs greatly from the Carmack book. Schaefer has a lengthy introduction about different types of records available, laws passed regarding women, and the general reasons why we should tell their stories. The remainder of her book is broken out by U.S. State. Within each state chapter she outlines important dates in state history, different laws that apply to women, a bibliography and resources.

Domestic Revolutions, A Social History of American Family Life by Steven Mintz and Susan Kellogg is a book I read in one of my undergrad history classes. In that class and through reading this book, I became hooked on family history. The book is about the ever changing family structure and stresses put upon a family over time. There are discussions on the roles of women, the question “what makes a family?”, and how different racial groups have changed through the years. The book is broken out into 10 chapters discussing the family structure from the days of New England and the Puritans through the 1980’s. There are two appendices, one on the Historical Perspectives on the Family and another on the Language of Family History. If you are looking for a good overview of the changing family from Puritan days to the 1980’s check out this book. It might even prompt a few questions that you will want answered as you write your family history.

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