1500 Shenandoah Road
Alexandria, Virginia 22308
Writing the Family Narrative,
by Lawrence P. Gouldrup, Ph.D.
Self-published, 1987. 153 pages.
Call Number: CS22. G68
Review by Paul B. Phelps
The author, a university instructor of creative writing, says that this slim guide is intended for the genealogist or amateur family writer who wants to leave a historical record of his own family. He goes to great lengths to make the distinction between a short family narrative and a full-blown historical novel. Such novels are a mainstay of the Western cannon, but they are a dubious model for the beginning writer. The author gives useful advice on technique, theme, and the need for social and regional context. He even advises the writer to continue developing his narrative through revision after revision. Yet most of his examples (and frequent, extended excerpts) come from masterpieces of 19th and 20th century literature. The reader feels that he has attended a graduate seminar on comparative literature, rather than a writing workshop. And the final conclusion – that a “successful . . . family narrative requires total immersion in the character and period about which one is writing” – is hardly appropriate for the genealogist who hopes to transform a welter of facts into a modest narrative history. This is not the book for a beginner, who would be better served by friendlier guides to family history and simpler guides to writing well.
New York Genealogical Research,
by George K Schweitzer, Ph.D., Sc.D
Call Number: F118.S39
Review by Jon Marie Pearson
New York Genealogical Research is an older book that was published in 1988, but you will feel like you hit the jackpot with the amount of information within the book. Time periods highlighted by Schweitzer include The Dutch period (1609-1664), English period (1664-1775), Revolutionary period (1763-1783), Early statehood (1783-1825), The National period (1825-1861), Civil War period (1861-1865). Schweitzer’s knowledge of history and resources available are broken down into categories that will help you to gain an idea of where to begin searching for specific information on your ancestors that settled or migrated through the state. Specific locations of documents and types of records are laid out in a way that you can easily understand what type of document you should be looking for and where to find that information. As I stated before, that due to the time period this book was published, you will need to reach out to specific repositories and locations to be sure that the information is still there, and to see if it may have been digitized. You will definitely want a sheet of paper nearby for making notes of documents and locations that you will want to look into. I definitely recommend taking a look at New York Genealogical Research if you are looking for New York ancestors.
Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants,
by Nell Marion Nugent
MVGS Call Number: F229. N84
Review by Jeff Welch
Are you looking for deeds associated with your ancestors who lived in Virginia between 1623 and 1782? If the answer is “yes”, then you need to visit our Research Center (when we reopen later this year) and look through the eight-volume set of Cavaliers and Pioneers: Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants . Volume I covers the period of 1623 – 1666; Vol 2 (1666 – 1695), Vol 3 (1695 – 1732), Vol 4 (1732 – 1741), Vol 5 (1741 – 1749), Vol 6 (1749 – 1762), Vol 7 (1762 – 1776), and Vol 8 (1779 – 1782).
Each volume contains a complete by-name index for every deed contained therein – the sellers, the buyers, owners of adjacent lands, and if headrights were claimed in the purchase, those named as headrights. Also identified is the amount of land (in acres) sold/bought and the price, and the location of the land (usually defined by identifiable boundaries – such as other people’s lands, or rivers, or swamps, or roads).
Here is an example of how these books have helped me: my 9th great-grandfather Bartholomew Hoskins (sometimes Hopkins, Hopskins), was born in England ~1600. He came to Virginia in 1614/15 (at the age of 15) to seek his fortune. He survived the 1622 Jamestown Massacre and on 24 Feb 1624, he was living in Elizabeth City, on the East side of the Hampton River, in an area called Bucke Row. On 3 Nov 1624, he was granted 100 acres of land for being an Ancient Planter (that deed is noted in Volume I on page 7). Per that entry, the land was located “N. upon the backe river, S. upon the maine land & W. upon a creek dividing same from land of Peter Arundell, gent.” The index for Volume I shows 17 more entries for Bartholomew and several entries for several of his sons.