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Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes, 2nd Ed. (paperback)

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Genealogists are like detectives. Working out puzzles is the name of their game! If you have ever wanted to research and document your family history the right way, then the award-winning Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes is for you! Authored by professional genealogist Shannon Combs-Bennett, this genealogy book explains the joys, challenges, and triumphs of researching your family's origins. While many people assume genealogy research starts online, Combs-Bennett shows the importance of starting a family tree using documents that can be found in your own home!

The revised second edition of Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes is written in a friendly, easy-to-understand style that avoids complex jargon. While not a comprehensive guide, there are lots of examples, case studies, and advice that can help would-be family historians quickly get up to speed. In addition to listing best practices for conducting genealogical research, Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes also warns readers about the many pitfalls of family research, from "brick wall" mysteries to time-wasting online searches.

What you will learn in this guide

  • Why are people so interested in family history?
  • Evaluating clues, facts, and myths in family stories
  • The importance of linking generations
  • Vital records, from birth certificates to death records
  • Non-vital records, from census forms to wills
  • Religious records
  • Five things that can trip up newbies researching family history
  • Best practices for genealogy road trips
  • Interviewing relatives, and dealing with skeptics
  • Pros and cons of online genealogy research
  • Genetic genealogy basics
  • Understanding the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)
  • Non-paternal events and other skeletons in the genetic closet
  • Visualizing family history with charts
  • Research logs and genealogy journals
  • Preserving records and planning for disasters
  • Genealogy software and GEDCOM files

The revised second edition of Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes concentrates on basic skills. Nevertheless, in a single reading you will be able to understand some important research basics. Creating a strong family tree will not only satisfy your own curiosity, but will also serve as a record to share with relatives and future generations!

The Independent Book Publishers Association awarded Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes a silver Benjamin Franklin award for excellence in publishing.

The second edition of this guide is also available as a PDF that can be read on a screen or printed out. 

Professional genealogist & storyteller

Shannon Combs-Bennett is an author, researcher, and lecturer based in the Washington, D.C. metro area. She regularly speaks and writes about genetic genealogy and research methodology. Shannon is a frequent contributor to Family Tree Magazine and Family Tree University. Her blog Trials and Tribulations (T2) Family History chronicles her journey through research and family exploration.

Shannon earned her Bachelor of Science in Biology from Indiana University, with an emphasis in genetics, which started her passion for research and genetic genealogy. Shannon completed the Boston University Certificate of Genealogical Research and earned her Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (PLCGS) in American Records from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She received a Masters in Genealogical, Heraldic, and Paleographic Studies from the University of Strathclyde in 2019. Currently Shannon is working toward her PhD in History with a genealogy emphasis, also from the University of Strathclyde.

Genealogy Basics In 30 Minutes is her third book.


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