Book Review: The Family Tree Problem Solver, by Marsha Hoffman Rising

Prepared by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

There are a lot of genealogical how-to books out there. The Family Tree Problem Solver is, in my opinion, one of the best. I am so glad to see that the publisher decided to update and re-release this important work. It's not aimed at the beginning genealogist, simply because it strives to help people who currently have hit a brick wall in their research. Any genealogist who has some research and problem solving under his or her belt will benefit from the ideas in this book. More advanced genealogists can also benefit from chapters on problem solving and analysis; researching ancestors before 1850; and sorting through individuals with the same name. This book, now in it's second edition, was originally written by genealogist, Marsha Hoffman Rising, who passed away in 2010. She was the author of many articles and works about Arkansas genealogy. She worked as a professional genealogist for 25 years. That experience in research is evident as one reads how to break down brick walls.

This second edition includes updates on Internet genealogy; DNA and genealogical terms provided by genealogists Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Laureen Gamber, and the editors of Family Tree Magazine, respectively. This is the type of book that you do not have to read from cover to cover. You can choose sections that would best help you with your own genealogical problem and go from there.

One of my favorite sections can be found in the chapter entitled, "The Critical Connection: Finding Ancestors who Lived before 1850." This chapter includes a list, Tenets for the Tenacious: Suggestions for discovering the origins of pioneer ancestors, and outlines 15 steps for tracking these early ancestors. This 15-step tip list is one that should be laminated and kept by every genealogist's computer as a reminder of methodology when one hits the preverbal brick wall. Advice contained in this list includes, focus on families, not surnames; search surrounding areas; and learn all you can about your ancestor and his community.

My personal opinion is that this book is one of the best for learning how to problem solve and break down brick walls. Every genealogist should have this book in his or her library.

Disclosure: I am currently writing a book for the publisher of this book. However, I have purchased over the years two copies of this book, both the first edition and this latest edition with my own money and have always recommended this book, prior to my relationship with the publisher. I do not benefit in any way from recommending this book.

The Family Tree Problem Solver: Tried-and-true Tactics for Tracing Elusive Ancestors, by Marsha Hoffman Rising. Cincinnati, Ohio: Family Tree Books, 2011.

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