Shaking Your Family Tree
by Dr. Ralph J. Crandall
(Dublin, N.H. Yankee Publishing, Inc. 1986) 256 pages
Reviewed by Doris V. Cummins
Americans have always been fascinated with the possibility of descent from royalty or Mayflower families. Today, however, our focus has broadened to recognize the value of remembering our ordinary families and understanding their struggles and successes within an historical context.
Dr. Ralph Crandall's book offers a basic, up-to-date guide to libraries, archives and other depositories, both public and private, that house genealogical data. It introduces you to genealogical methods for compiling family histories. Both the beginning as well as advanced researcher can benefit from his knowledge and experience. Each chapter focuses on a single area of research and is filled with examples of discoveries that can result from successful efforts.
Conversely, using many of his own research experiences pursuing his family lines, Dr. Crandall points out the inaccuracy or misinterpretation of information found in vital records, obituaries, cemetery records, censuses and other sources. Often conflicting information leads to confusion. Dr. Crandall emphasizes the need to document several sources rather than accepting data on face values. Beginning family historians are often unaware of this requirement.
The author, director of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, is eminently qualified to write this readable book. His expertise is apparent in the many references to Colonial documents such as wills and land records not generally found in other basic guides. This manual is so well done you will return to it time and again.