Thursday, February 20, 2014

Francois Weil Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America

   I finally managed to finish Francois Weil's Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America. I've heard many critiques of the books, as well as many positive reviews. I'd been waiting to read it myself for quite a while.
  Everything said and done, the book was an interesting read. Although it is not presented as such, the book functions as a history of genealogy in white, English America. Family Trees is strongest in its initial analysis. The book convincingly places the average 18th and 19th century genealogy effort within America's efforts to define itself: was the country to be white, European, aristocratic? It falls apart in the later sections. Weil suddenly jumps from European genealogy to the study of Roots. He also adds in a discussion of the professionalism of genealogy - a touchy subject in modern genealogical discussion. Begin the book as a colonial history, rather than a true history of genealogy, and you will enjoy it much more.

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