Book Review: Practical Genealogy by Brian Sheffey

Uncover facts and mysteries of your ancestors—a clear approach to genealogy

The pursuit of family history tends to be shaped by several motives, including finding a larger familial historical picture, preserving the past for future generations, and storytelling. Practical Genealogy provides a method for investigating your family history by establishing an understanding of genealogy and the factors, tasks, and obstacles involved in the research. The end goal: find the information necessary to piece together your heritage.

Follow 50 steps that will fill in the puzzle of your lineage. Learn how to perform your own investigation through the lens of real-world obstacles like tracing ancestry through adoptions and orphanages. Practical Genealogy simplifies and breaks down the complex research process into actionable tips that can be conducted over a period of time. And most importantly, no blood test is necessary.

Inside Practical Genealogy you’ll find:

  • Break through barriers—Learn how to negotiate common “brick wall” issues like missing chunks of family history or multiple names found for the same person.
  • Case studies—Examples of actual genealogy research are provided to support the comprehension of each step of your exploration.
  • See the BIG picture—Large fonts and easy-to-read images make learning easy for older adults.

When you take genealogy research into your own hands, your potential for discovery is limitless.

My Review

I chose to read this book after receiving a free copy from the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own and completely unbiased.

I have been working on my family history for years. I started before the internet and when I hit a dead end, I set the information aside. I picked back up not too long ago and have found a lot more information, but I’m always looking for more ways to find more data. That’s what Practical Genealogy has done for me. There are more places for me to get immersed in finding out new things about my ancestors!

Practical Genealogy also has some ideas that I hadn’t considered. I’ve always wondered the best way to preserve all of this information and have it to pass to future generations. Now I just need to decide how I want to present the information.

If you’re planning on working on your family history or already are, Practical Genealogy is a good resource.

About the Author

“I am the child of European royalty, America’s founding fathers, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans. The American chattel slavery system is literally encoded in my DNA.”
– BBC 2 Interview

An engaging and thought-provoking public speaker, Brian has expertise in DNA, mid-Atlantic & Southern research, with an emphasis on the intersection of white, black, and Native American genealogy. He has used his knowledge to solve cases of unknown parentage from Colonial America to the present day utilizing DNA and paper trail evidence.

Brian’s passion for genealogy was initially inspired by his father, and his father’s drive and desire to discover the story of his family. This understanding inspires his work to help others uncover their own ancestral stories. He combines years of experience in marketing research and academia with a passion for genealogical research – and a unique ability to solve seemingly impossible cases. His primary research interests include cases of unknown parentage, such as identifying the white progenitors of mulatto family lines; and triangulating answers to tough genealogical questions using traditional records and genetic evidence.

Behind his passion for research lies the belief that genealogy is an opportunity to connect with Americans from different backgrounds to enable them to connect with each other – and make connections around the globe.