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Beginners luck - you will need it

01.12.2003 (07.06.2008)

ok for serious researchers

leaves beginners behind, cost  -  can be borrowed from some libraries and family history societies .

Recommendable Yes:

8 Ciao members have rated this review on average: very helpful See ratings
very helpful by (88%):
  1. Redbitch
  2. supersexycoolchick
  3. mumsymary
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helpful by (13%):
  1. grahamft
  2. Jamesath

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Family tree magazine (out monthly, priced £3.50) is the sister magazine of Practical Family History magazine and is not ideal for beginners. This magazine is better suited to slightly more experienced researchers or genealogists.
Like Practical Family History magazine it has many articles which encourage reader participation, but instead of "my great-grandparents were...." , there is "18th century links", which means you need to have delved back into the past and be at least back before 1799!
As many beginners are struggling to get back before 1899, I was lucky in that when I was about 10 I had to do a family tree as part of a project and I kept the original paper I scribbled the tree on. My late grandfather gave us details of 2 sisters, my father and uncle were unaware of, because they died young and as my grandfather was born in 1899 i was back before the 100 year rule for most of my research. I now regret not having asked him more questions before he died - a common complaint you will hear from family tree researchers!

If you are thinking of starting tracing your tree - ask your oldest relatives as much as possible now and get a copy of either Practical Family History magazine or Family History Monthly magazine. When you are far enough back, borrow this magazine from the Chesterfield and District FHS librarian at monthly meetings - or as a recent speaker stated you can read them at Chesterfield Local Studies library, too.
The other reader participation ideas in Family Tree magazine include:
1. Questions and answers - which often has follow-ups with other people's suggestions
2. Readers interests
3. Pass it on - where readers search their databases, sell or return items to family members.
4. Readers letters
5. "Can you help?" - Similar to help wanted articles in practical family history magazine
6. New books in brief - supply a copy of the book and where it can be purchased to assist other readers.
These features are easy to read, easy to understand, and provide plenty of help for the researcher. Any one searching a particular surname such as Mellard can find other people in the UK and internationally who are researching the same surname in a similar area. This is done by checking out the name interests. If you find one that seems a possible link make a note of the code number and compare this with the list of codes provided at the side of the names and addresses to find the person interested in that Surname.
Beginners should be advised that most names interests include the Chapman code for their area e.g. DBY for Derbyshire. A list of CHAPMAN codes is available from most Family history societies and most can easily be deciphered. An exception to the above rule would be WRY which stands for West Riding of Yorkshire, which included the Sheffield/Rotherham area. Yorkshire was split into 3 ridings so before a certain date these areas will be listed under their Ridings rather than North, South or West Yorkshire. To confuse matters the WRY covers parts of the area now covered by South Yorkshire!
The readers' letters can be on a variety of topics and make interesting reading. The magazine usually concentrates on a couple of pages of letters per month with the Can You Help section being for small queries such as "Where can I find details of Wakefield Asylum where an ancestor died 1874?"
All the above facilities are provided free of charge. I have not submitted any articles to this magazine, as I have not got far enough back until recently.
Other articles range from war records, recommended websites, computer advice, book reviews and items on events to be held on genealogy, family history, occupations etc.
Readers can submit photographs to be used on the front cover of both the Practical Family History magazine and the Family tree magazine.
In my view the text is interesting and informative but the actual font is too small and late at night or when I am tired the words blur (At 36, I am getting old!!). I prefer the font on the Family History Monthly magazine, which is a similar price but a better read, as it is designed for the beginner. However, overall I prefer Practical Family History magazine overall (this magazine's sister paper) because of the features whereby readers are actively encouraged to participate, the writing style is aimed at beginners, the style of writing and the cost.
In the July 2002 issue of Family Tree magazine, was an article by Anthony Camp - a celebrated writer of books and articles - about the proposed reform of the registration service and , although I have read it 3 times, I still do not understand what the changes are or how they will affect my research. I know I am not thick but because of either the complexity of the subject or the writing style I found that the article was both unclear and possibly misleading.
The Computer Section is also too advanced for my liking - I am fairly au fait with computers but the articles in the July 2002 issue particularly seemed geared at those who had a computing degree! Not all family historians and genealogists are keen on using computers and this section could be very off-putting if it assumes that everyone is on a higher level of knowledge and expertise in this field.
I was thinking of changing to the Family tree magazine but the writing style assumes that the reader knows a lot about computers, family history research and often uses jargon that is difficult for a beginner to understand. I did not find anything in the Family Tree magazine, which pointed beginners to their sister magazine, Practical Family History - which would not only generate sales for them but also encourage beginners, not put them off.
I found their website www.family-tree.co.uk difficult to use also - I wanted to find details of Practical Family History magazine but there did not seem to have much reference to this on the site. The pages were cumbersome, taking an age to download (when I was on dial-up) and not very interesting when downloaded - I had hoped to search previous magazines articles but could not find out how to do this in the time I had allotted. I have tried it since on broadband and fared a little better, but you can not find previous articles - only purchase the magazine's back issues.

This review appeared on dooyoo first.

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Comments about this review »

grahamft 03.08.2008 00:18

Wow, that was a struggle to read!!!!

mumsymary 14.07.2004 00:10

We are all country bumkins

ElizaF 01.12.2003 23:07

excellent comprehensive op! but some ppl may pick you up on the grammer and punctuation of the 1st few paragraphs :) xx E.

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This review of Family Tree has been rated:

"very helpful" by (88%):

  1. Redbitch
  2. supersexycoolchick
  3. mumsymary

and 11 other members

"helpful" by (13%):

  1. grahamft
  2. Jamesath

The overall rating of a review is different from a simple average of all individual ratings.

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