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Unpuzzling Your Past: 4th Edition Expanded, Updated and Revised by Emily Anne Croom: (PDF Edition)

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How many of your great-grandparents can you name?
If you begin your family history research with this question, you can start getting answers today with this bestselling book by Emily Croom.
In her acclaimed guide to family history research, Emily Croom provides all the tools you need to begin your family research. From a step-by-step discussion of the records used in genealogical research to the investigation of family legends, this book shines a light on all facets of family history research.
Throughout the book you’ll find:
  • Strategies for success
  • Tips for getting the most from names, dates, and family traditions
  • Suggestions for using vital records of births, marriages, and deaths
  • Keys to census records, and all state and federal records
  • Tools for using county courthouse records, including wills, deeds, and court records
  • Discussions of church, cemetery, and newspaper sources
  • Illustrations, charts, sidebars, and study lists for further reference
  • Blank forms, including a fi ve-generation chart, family group sheets, and census forms covering the years 1790 to 1930
Besides gathering names and dates, family history researchers want to learn how their ancestors lived and how they fit into the world around them. Therefore, focusing on the family as a primary source of information, the book provides suggestions for interviewing relatives and explains how to interpret and understand oral records, keepsakes, and family papers. It also introduces you to research methods and to the entire mass of public records used in identifying your ancestors.

Unpuzzling Your Past is great for both individual and classroom use. It is intended for beginning genealogists with little or no prior research or family history experience and thus addresses the needs and potential questions of those beginners. For this updated and revised 4th edition, Croom has expanded the information on public records, added useful Internet addresses, and included a chapter-length case study of a search to identify female ancestors.
278 pages | Published 2001, reprinted 2010 | PDF Edition

What the reviewers are saying
“A goldmine! A well-written exceptionally well-organized and illustrated text makes Unpuzzling Your Past a treasure of a book.”—Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Guide
“A must for the beginner, and a plus for the more advanced genealogist.”—Oregon Genealogical Society Quarterly
“A good first choice for the beginning genealogist.”—Library Journal
“Covers quite comprehensively the basics of family tree searching . . . provides excellent sample forms for record keeping.”—Booklist
“One of the best how-to guides available.”—Southern Queries
About the author
Genealogist Emily Anne Croom is an active researcher and lecturer. She holds a master’s degree in history and contributes articles to several genealogy periodicals, including Family Chronicle and Discovering Family History. Croom is a member of various local and regional genealogical societies, as well as the Association of Professional Genealogists. In addition to several privately printed family histories, her other books include The Sleuth Book for Genealogists (2000), The Genealogist’s Companion and Sourcebook (2003), and, with co-author Franklin C. Smith, A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors (2003). Visit her website at
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