Sunday, January 31, 1999



New book provides an informative introduction to genealogy

Looking for a good introductory book on genealogy either for yourself or as a gift?

Check out Jeane Eddy Westin's ``Finding Your Roots: How to Trace Your Ancestors at Home and Abroad,'' published in 1998Its chapter "Finding Your Roots in Cyberspace" should prove especially useful to anyone just getting started in computerized genealogy. It contains discussions on choosing the right computer equipment, picking a service provider, locating the best genealogy sites and even creating your own homepage.

But it covers a lot of other areas, too, all with the assumption that the reader needs basic information on how to proceed and on what research materials are available.

One chapter I like is "Sources in Your Ancestral Homeland," which tells how to establish contact with government offices and genealogical organizations abroad. This section helps bridge a gap that is very difficult for many of us, particularly those who must cope with a foreign language.

Westin doesn't limit herself to European nations, as some of the older genealogy introductions do. Would you believe there is a Web site designed to put researchers in contact with their roots in the People's Republic of China? While she admits African data is lacking, she offers a list of West African embassies and academic sources that might be able to help African-Americans trace their lineage.

Of course there is plenty of basic information in the book: how to interview relatives, how to keep records on paper or with the computer, how to access material from the U.S. Census, the National Archives, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and distant libraries and courthouses. There are also state-by-state lists of genealogy organizations and research sources.

A few chapters simply provide interesting background information.

Westin describes the development of systems of names in various countries as well as migration patterns to America and within America.

And, in case you've ever wondered what terms like "gules" and "escutcheon" mean, there is even a chapter on heraldry and how to tell if you are entitled to a coat of arms (not the kind you see advertised in magazines).

Experienced genealogists, of course, are well beyond needing Westin's book. But for beginners, or for many of the rest of us, it's more than worth a read.

Ordering information: Westin, Jeane Eddy, "Finding Your Roots: How to Trace Your Ancestors at Home and Abroad," 336 pages, $16.95, Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1998, IBSN 0-87477-943-X.

Searching: Phyllis WROBLEWSKI (HARRIS) of Ashley is searching for possible ancestor Francis HARRIS, who years ago resided in Wilkes-Barre, Hanover Township or Nanticoke. He lived in the area as a young man in the 1930s and 1940s and might still have relatives here. Phyllis would like to get in touch with him or his family. Contact her at (570) 826-1379.

Revisiting: Colleen Buckley of Santa Rosa, Calif., writes that soon after the story of her search for relatives of great-uncle Christian Pallamary ran in this column in December she received a communication from one of his nephews. She is continuing her research in Greece by means of the Internet.

Tips: I recently was sent a copy of "The Smolenak Family Newsletter," published in Nazareth for members of an extended family from Slovakia.

If you know of any newsletters dealing with your family or with your ancestors' place of origin, it would be a smart move to subscribe. Even if there is no genealogical information in the newsletter, it can offer a wonderful way to meet relatives and make the connections that will help you in your genealogical quest. You might also consider starting one if your family lacks one.

A new Web site offers free genealogy products and services, according to the latest issue of the Council of Genealogy Columnists newsletter.

At you can find a free copy of a genealogy magazine, free name searches in Europe and North America, no-charge telephone advice and access to land records in many states. Said the newsletter, "There is also a company that will do a free evaluation of Irish ancestors and suggest ways in which you can make progress with difficult Irish research."

Wondering if there is a newspaper genealogy column in a part of America where you are doing research? A new Web site could help you. The Council of Genealogy Columnists is adding to its site a listing of all the genealogy columns written by members, arranged by state. You can look it up at

News notes: I will offer a two-hour introduction to genealogy at Boscov's Department Store's "Campus of Courses" in Wilkes-Barre next weekend. The session is scheduled for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 7. It will be held in the fourth-floor auditorium. The session is designed for beginners. I will begin by talking about some of the basics, and then everybody can pitch in with questions, problems and suggestions. Just bring a notepad and pen. I'll have a few handouts that will be useful to the beginner. And it's all free. Contact Boscov's Public Relations, 15 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18701 to sign up. There's always plenty of room.

The Everton Publishers has announced it will make financial contributions to genealogy societies that sponsor its "Discovering Your Heritage" workshops. The company publishes the famous "Everton's Genealogical Helper" magazine and "The Handy Book for Genealogists." Societies are asked to call Everton at (800) 443-6325 for details.

Remember, this column is now accessible through your computer at Then click on "Arts and Entertainment."

Have you solved some tough genealogical problems in your research? Do you have some tips you'd like to share with others? Would you like to report a success story? Drop me a line here at the paper. I'll get in touch with you and help bring the benefits of your experience to others.

Tom Mooney, The Times Leader, 15 N. Main St., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18711 or email at