I had a rude awakening a few weeks ago when my mom called and asked me what I’d been reading lately. Crash Course in Genealogy I told her proudly. “I blogged about it a few days ago.” Truth be told, I’ve been lusting over content and the 1940 census breakdown the way some folks might admire a busty pin-up.
“Don’t you ever read anything else?” She asked.
Needless to say I was a little hurt and more than a little offended. But as a matter of fact, yes I told her, I had been reading two other books as well: The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe by Tony Perrottet and If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name: News from Small-Town Alaska by Heather Lende. Both non-fiction, and both considered to be uninteresting material for both my parents.
“You should read Nora Roberts, you’d really like her,” my mother began listing a gourmet dinner grocery list of books I should be reading.
‘Tis the season for road trips, cemetery research, and pumping information from relatives at the family reunion, I explained. It’s time to enjoy the ride to the Allen County Public Library, eat the food I don’t normally allow myself to even look at, and justify the resulting credit card statement as an ‘educational expense.’ My complaints were unacknowledged.
So in the face of such overwhelming criticism of my literary habits, I broke down and read the In the Garden series (Blue Dahlia, Black Rose, & Red Lily) by Nora Roberts. And I’m very pleased to report that genealogy is a major plot device in the series. I’d definitely recommend it if you don’t mind genealogy research sharing the stage with gardening, romance, southern culture, and a psychotic ghost. But maybe, that was my mom’s point all along. Use your interests as a spring board and maybe you’ll find some inspiration to look at research in a new way.
But I have to share this one irk with the book; the characters said they found information pertaining to their ghost problem and Memphis in the 1890 census.
The closest thing we have to the 1890 census in Tennessee is the Veteran’s Census from 1890. Not helpful in this aspect of the plot. Most researchers rely on the Memphis City Directory from 1890-1891 to assist them with this 20 year blackout between census records.
I’ve let this fact rest, as the book series is entirely fictional. But I’m still shaking my head over it. I’d love to live in a book where I have access to the full 1890 census. It would totally make most of my research much easier.
Keeping this literary tune in mind, what books (both fiction and non-fiction) with a genealogical bent have you read and could recommend? Leave your interesting, creative, or otherwise informative responses in the comment area below this post.
Next week I’ll give you the scoop on our special August workshop “Bringing Family History to Life: The Stories We Could Tell.” This presentation will help people interested in telling their family stories to convert their past into well written and published collections. Click here for registration and more information.
See you at the Library!