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Ancestral Trails: Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History [Hardcover]

Mark D. Herber
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan. 1 1980
This second edition takes account the many changes in the field since "Ancestral Trails" was first published in 1997. A comprehensive and up to date guide to tracing British ancestry, the book guides the researcher through the substantial British archives with a detailed view of the records and published sources available. Research in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands is also covered, as are the latest developments in information technology applications on CD and through the internet.

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From Library Journal

Herber's book is billed as "the complete guide to British genealogy and family history," and that is exactly what it is. Thoughtfully designed, this orderly, comprehensive, and elegant work guides the researcher (beginner or advanced) through the entire process of tracing British heritage, from obtaining information from living relatives to drawing family trees and starting research in the birth, marriage, death, or census records. Later chapters guide researchers to records that are more difficult to find and use, such as wills, parish registers, civil and ecclesiastical court records, poll books, and property records. Written for practitioners by a practitioner (Herber is a member of the Society of Genealogists in London), this complete, current, and beautiful guide ultimately helps the researcher focus on how the ancestral trail begins and how to form a coherent picture of past generations and their links to the present. Highly recommended. Howells's Netting Your Ancestors, on the other hand, is less elegant in delivering its guidance to genealogical research on the Internet. Nothing that it covers?the selection of hardware and software, getting a direct internet connection, E-mail, mailing lists, and newsgroups?is tied uniquely to genealogical research. In fact, a good 95 percent of the skills and tools it covers could be gleaned just as effectively from any basic computer book. This seems to be written as a how-to book?how to get to the author's popular web site. Not recommended.?Scott Hightower, Gallatin/NYU
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Mark Herber is a solicitor. He has been researching his own family tree since 1979 and has traced some lines back to about 1580.

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5.0 out of 5 stars Best of its kind March 8 2002
Format:Paperback
This is simply the best manual of English genealogy ever published. Let's hope any upcoming edition acknowledges the existance of the Internet.
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Format:Hardcover
"No other publication gives such comprehensive and up-to-date guidance on tracing British ancestry and researching family history. Illustrated throughout with more than ninety examples of the major types of records, and with detailed lists of further reading, Ancestral Trails will be the essential companion and guide for all family historians." Anthony Camp, Director, Society of Genealogists.
This excellent publication was created in association with the prestigious Society of Genealogists, perhaps akin to the US' National Genealogical Society. The author Mark D. Herber is a solicitor who began researching his family in 1979. He has successfully traced some of his lines back to around 1580.
Indeed I was impressed with this 674 page "encyclopedia." (Quotes added for emphasis!) The bibliography alone is twenty-two pages. My experience with English records has been limited to early parish records in Devon and some Court of Canterbury wills, so I was most eager to have the opinion of three friends who do extensive English, Welsh and Irish research, and indeed are successful in helping others make strong headway in their research. You can imagine the excitement at our local LDS Family History Center as they poured over the book with uncustomary enthusiasm!
The consensus is that ANCESTRAL TRAILS is as definitive of British research as Ancestry's THE SOURCE is of American genealogy. Lew, a 1st generation Brit, was impressed with the chapter on military records, and made a note to order the book forthwith. Elsie, born of English immigrant parents, had been inquiring previously about manor court records and found this publication provided more than she had found in explanation elsewhere.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indeed I was impressed with this 674 page "encyclopedia." Sept. 9 1998
By DearMYRTLE - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"No other publication gives such comprehensive and up-to-date guidance on tracing British ancestry and researching family history. Illustrated throughout with more than ninety examples of the major types of records, and with detailed lists of further reading, Ancestral Trails will be the essential companion and guide for all family historians." Anthony Camp, Director, Society of Genealogists.
This excellent publication was created in association with the prestigious Society of Genealogists, perhaps akin to the US' National Genealogical Society. The author Mark D. Herber is a solicitor who began researching his family in 1979. He has successfully traced some of his lines back to around 1580.
Indeed I was impressed with this 674 page "encyclopedia." (Quotes added for emphasis!) The bibliography alone is twenty-two pages. My experience with English records has been limited to early parish records in Devon and some Court of Canterbury wills, so I was most eager to have the opinion of three friends who do extensive English, Welsh and Irish research, and indeed are successful in helping others make strong headway in their research. You can imagine the excitement at our local LDS Family History Center as they poured over the book with uncustomary enthusiasm!
The consensus is that ANCESTRAL TRAILS is as definitive of British research as Ancestry's THE SOURCE is of American genealogy. Lew, a 1st generation Brit, was impressed with the chapter on military records, and made a note to order the book forthwith. Elsie, born of English immigrant parents, had been inquiring previously about manor court records and found this publication provided more than she had found in explanation elsewhere. I was impressed with the 94 illustrations, including typical certificates of vital records, representative samples of wills and the like.
Also impressive is the attention given to beginning genealogists. Basics such as pedigree charts, personal recollections & memorabilia, spelling, handwriting, dates, obtaining certificates and organization of collected materials are discussed with ample illustrations.
Additional chapters include: General Problems Encountered by Researchers, Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths, Census Returns, Parish Registers, Churchyards and Cemeteries, Directories, Combining Sources, Archives, Libraries and Family History Societies, Wills and Administrations,Catholic, Nonconformist and Jewish Records, Marriage and Divorce, Maps, Land Registrations and Property Records, Local and Social History, Newspapers and Elections,Parish and Town Records, Records of the Army, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force, Records of Shipping and Seaman, Records of Trades, Professions and Business, Oaths, Taxation and Insurance Records Records of Civil and Ecclesiastical Courts, Records of the Criminal Courts and Criminals, Education, Peerages, the Gentry, Famous People and Heraldry, Further Property Records, Tracing Migrants and Living Relatives, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands Immigration, Emigration and Investigation Abroad
Appendices included essential information under the following topics: Codes for areas and volumes in the GRO Indexes, Indexes to other GRO records, Chapman County Codes, Seize Quarters of Bessie Maude Symes, Extracts from the Bullied and Keates family trees, Public Record Office Information Leaflets, County Record Offices & other archives, Commencement dates of the reigns of English and British monarchs, Wills & Administrations in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury: A Summary of Finding-Aids, Records of the Court of Chancery: A summary of Finding-Aids.
Owing only to its tiny print, you'll need a magnifying glass in addition to your bi-focals to glean all that's contained in Ancestral Trails. On the best advice of our resident "British Research Gurus," I most heartily recommend this book.
DearMYRTLE
Daily Genealogy Columnist
Genealogy Forum on America Online
Keyword: dearmyrtle
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding reference book for British genealogy. March 3 1998
By Mark Howells - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The field of genealogical research in Great Britain is littered with literature. This scepter'd isle has a long history of excellently preserved source records, an enthusiastic community of genealogists, and a wealth of authors willing to guide the enthusiasts through the records. Given this background, it is difficult to imagine that a new work on British genealogical research could quickly become a new "standard reference". Mark Herber has made his Ancestral Trails just such a standard. Ancestral Trails, written in association with the Society of Genealogists in the United Kingdom, is 688 pages of top quality writing, organization, and completeness of coverage. It takes a textbook approach to the subject of genealogical records, leading the reader from the more basic sources such as civil registration and parish records on to the more specialized such as military and educational records. Far from being dry in style, the author uses well chosen examples from his own years of researching his ancestors to explain how the record types in question can be used by the family historian. Some authors who use examples from their own research can detract from their work by doing so. In contrast, Mark Herber has made his personal examples of real research situations enhance the text because of their relevancy to his topics. Nearly one hundred examples of significant records are included as illustrations. Researchers experienced in using British records as well as beginners will find this encyclopedic guide useful. The author covers newly-available resources such as the 1881 Census Index and provides excellent research advice and several clever shortcuts to using this new finding aid. Those researchers with Essex ancestors will be doubly blessed by this book as many of Mark Herber's examples are from research in that county. The extensive bibliography really sets this book apart as a new standard reference. Almost one thousand bibliographic references are conveniently referenced from within the book's 30 chapters. Researchers familiar with particular record types will be pleasantly surprised to find Ancestral Trails referring to an exhaustive list of other works on the topic. The author's writing style lucidly describes the important considerations when working with a record type and seamlessly refers the reader to the more specialized works of other authors for greater detail. Ancestral Trails is a thick and thorough tome and an excellent addition to the research knowledge of anyone with British ancestry.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very complete guide-- but get the second edition Sept. 25 2004
By sootica - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I checked this book out from my local library because I felt that I was floundering with my British research. This book answered all the questions that I had, and much, much more. I'm not going to write a long review of this because there are a couple of other excellent reviews here already. I just wanted to add that there is a second edition of this book, from January 2004, available in England, but unfortunately not in the US yet. Because the internet is so valuable to those of us trying to do research from abroad, I decided to spend the extra money and order the newer edition from www.amazon.co.uk . It is more expensive, but it seemed worth it to me to have the most recent edition. If that's important to you, check the publication date on the edition advertised.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ancestral Trails April 26 2011
By FamilyTapestry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Ancestral Trails by Mark Herber is a must have reference book for those pursuing their ancestors in England! Mr. Herber lays out the record sets that are available, their content, and the jurisdicitions they were created in. He goes into great detail, and has done a superb job in his sourcing. If you want to learn about English genealogy, or as a professional have a handy reference to consult, this is the book to have. As a professional genealogist, this is a must. I needed this book quickly, and was grateful that Amazon.com was able to rush it to me the next day.

FamilyTapestry
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Continues to be the best thing of its kind July 27 2009
By Michael K. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
When a new edition appears of a genealogical reference book I have found especially useful, I don't necessarily, automatically, buy the new edition. If the updated information is primarily new addresses and phone numbers, but the meat of the book has stayed essentially the same, . . . well, one can always look up that sort of thing on the Internet. The first edition of Herber's fine work -- which has already acquired the label "Bible of British genealogy" -- appeared in 1997 and ran to 674 pages of extremely thorough discussion of sources for research in Britain. The second edition, published in association with the Society of Genealogists, is fully one-third longer. After paging through it at a conference, I counted up my pennies and bought it. And I haven't regretted the expense. While most of my own family lines are what some would call "Old American," their progenitors having arrived here before the 19th century, the same is not necessarily true of many of the in-laws and friends on whose behalf I have carried out research. And even though our legal system owes much to the English common law, there are decided differences between the bureaucratic history of Britain's unitary form of government and our own federal system. Until comparatively recently, Britain's principal record-keeping body was the civil parish, and while many of the old volumes from the "parish chest" are now held by the Public Record Office and its branches, they are still organized by the old jurisdictions. Britain never had "public lands" open for claim and settlement, so ownership of real property was traditionally proved by a thick stack of successive title deeds and conveyances. This system, too, has been modernized, but the family researcher will need to understand the older system. The novice British researcher is often told that unless his 19th or 18th century ancestor was wealthy, or at least middle class, there's no point in searching for a will. And while it's true that earlier British laws of inheritance spelled out how one's interest in real property would descend to one's heirs (by primogeniture, usually), even a workman had personal possessions and the tools of his trade that he could leave to whomever he wished. One of my own ancestors appears to have arrived in America as part of the British military contingent sent to fight "The War of Jenkins' Ear" (my favorite name for any war, any time . . .), and even though that was in 1739, I was amazed to discover how complete the surviving regimental records were. The author will lead you through that maze, too. In fact, there is no area of recordkeeping, governmental, religious, or private, that Herber does not give consideration to. He's a lawyer by training and he possesses the trait of making careful distinctions between matters that appear similar but are actually different. He's also a very talented wordsmith with the knack of clear and concise explanations of sometimes complex topics. Throughout the book, he uses anecdotes from his own researched family as examples, most of them thoroughly down to earth. This is not the sort of work most people would read straight through (though some of us enjoy doing exactly that), but you should keep it in mind when you discover that link to a British lineage.
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