Friday, November 30, 2007

What Makes a Model Genealogy?

The Boone Family
by Hazel Atterbury Spraker
GEN 929.2

One fine example of a model genealogy is The Boone Family by Hazel Atterbury Spraker. Spraker carefuly traces The Boones through eleven generations from George Boone I who lived in England in the late 1600's to his numerous modern day descendants. This work is thoroughly documented. It includes excerpts from a variety of genealogical resources including the records of the Society of Friends, revolutionary war records, marriage records, baptismal records, wills, and deeds. All this careful research has resulted in a comprehensive and well indexed genealogy. The 15,000 name index, enabled me to easily find one of my ancestors in the chapter about Allied Families who married into the Boone family. Lake County Public Library (LCPL) has two helpful books about citing genealogical research: Genealogical Evidence: A Guide to the Standard of Proof Relating to Pedigrees, Ancestry, Heirship and Family History, by Noel C. Stevenson and Genealogical Research Standards by Harland Derek. Search the LCPL catalog at for more genealogy titles.

Besides thorough and accurate research, a model genealogy includes helpful maps and illustrations. There are a number of interesting illustrations in Spraker's work including a picture of Colonel Daniel Boone, a map of Berks County Pennsylvania, the Headstone of Squire Boone, the Exeter Meeting House, and Fort Boonesborough. With today's technology family histories can be made into beautiful heritage scrapbooks with numerous color pictures and images. One LCPL book which can provide you with ideas for showcasing and preserving family photos, and memorabilia is The Complete Guide to Creating Heritage Scrapbooks. This title includes many inspiring sample scrapbook pages.

A model genealogy should also include some colorful historical background information to help the reader paint an overall picture of the life and times of their ancestors. In this way, genealogy can make history become more personal and meaningful. Spraker includes an interesting biographical sketch of George Boone III, the first American ancestor in this family, and of course, a biographical sketch of the famous Daniel Boone. She also provides the reader with a sense of early pioneer life. I recommend genealogists interested in the life and times of Indiana ancestors read Indiana an Illustrated History, by Patrick J. Furlong. Furlong takes the reader from the days of early Indiana frontier life to its place as the heartland of America. A generous use of pictures makes this work an outstanding visual history of Indiana.

Some things don't change very much, the first paragraph of Spraker's preface describes an exhilarating hunt for elusive ancestors. A genealogists passion is still felt in the stories and pictures they bring together to tell the history of their family.

"A family history is full of delightful surprises and discoveries to one who chooses to make it a study. It has also many disappointments and baffling problems, and many tangles to be straightened out. Never-the-less it proves to be such an elusive and fascinating subject that one is led on and on, finally becoming firmly held in the bonds of its peculiar charm. Like many other interesting subjects, the more meagre and incomplete the material the more fascinating the quest becomes. In the search for some ancestral line, one small bit of data or tradition may often be a clue to
something else, so that little by little the obscure points are revealed, and in the end one's patience and perseverance are richly rewarded."

As is common with most model genealogies, Spraker collects, compiles, and builds on the work of several other family genealogists to produce a comprehensive Boone family history. Today, genealogical tools available at your library such as Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and the Internet make collaboration among genealogists easy and rewarding.