Today marks the launch of one of the best books you'll ever find on researching your family tree. Trace your Roots comes from the pen of Maureen Vincent-Northam, co-author of The Writer’s ABC Checklist, colleague and very good friend. Trace your Roots is a superbly researched book on a serious subject, leavened with Maureen's inimitable brand of humour. To tell us more about it, Maureen has kindly answered some questions.
How did you come to write Trace your Roots?
This is a much-updated version of a previously published book and I wrote it to sort of redress the balance. At one time, the only genealogy books available were those of a seriously academic ilk, but all sorts of people want to trace their family tree and many appreciate a lighter tone. With Trace your Roots I had this firmly in mind while still taking the subject seriously.
Tell us a little about the book.
The book is set out as hundreds of tips with each of the 10 main chapters covering a key topic area. For example, parish records, civil sources, archival, and modern records. These tips are effective because, very often with family history research, you really do need to think outside the box. It’s easy to hit a brick wall so I suggest alternative ways of looking at things as well as recommending some lesser-known resources, many of which I’ve used in the past with positive results. I even give lessons on pidgin Latin!
How did you first become interested in genealogy?
I started out, many moons ago, by working on historical projects for other writers. I undertook some research for a local government department and then opened shop as a family history researcher. I don’t do much of that now, concentrating more on writing and editing, but I’ve always enjoyed delving into the past, and love mystery stories, and of course, genealogy involves both.
There are a couple of family stories: Winston Churchill was supposed to have been very impressed with, and congratulated my grandfather on, his building skills – this being one of Churchill’s own leisure pursuits – though I have difficulty picturing Mr C with a spirit level and trowel. I’ve also heard a half-formed family tale of a bare-knuckle fighter, possibly called Ruben – very tantalising and I’m not altogether sure I should be as excited by this as I am.
You mention researching connections to famous people in your book: can you tell us more?
I’ve been involved in researching the 13th century de Bohun family who were Earls of Hereford and the ancestors of Daniel Boone, the American pioneer. And I once had a client with connections to a branch of the royal Tudors.
What's your next writing project?
I have so many and, as you know, quite a few half-written ones! At the moment I’m looking for interest in a memoir-writing idea.
MaureenVincent-Northam is the author of Trace your Roots and co-author of TheWriter’s ABC Checklist. She’s judged online writing contests, contributes regularly to markets aimed at writers, and wrote and tutored an online workshop that centred on researching and writing family histories.
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