Book Review: Kinship: It's All Relative. Enlarged Second Edition

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There's no doubt a book that defines and explains all matters of kinship is much needed in the genealogical world. Most beginning family historians need help to better understand relationships like second cousin and first cousin, two times removed. Understanding these connections is essential to research.

"Kinship: It's All Relative" does that and defines other types of relationships and institutions like marriage. I was happy to see that it included same-sex marriage (though I found it odd it was placed in the very back of the book after the index, like it was an afterthought). I think it's important as we write about family history we include all types of families. Several helpful charts and diagrams can be found in the book including one that provides legal age to marry with and without consent by state. I would love that chart to include what year these ages were established, just like in the chart regarding common law marriages.

Unfortunately, this new "enlarged second edition" falls short by not updating information that originated with the first edition. First published in 1990, "Kinship" shows its age. It would have been a good idea to update all the information about resources that is sorely out of date. For a book that was reissued in 2012, someone should have looked through and caught errors like this one from page 101 where a recommendation is made for which genealogy software program you could use, the author writes "I like the Genealogical Management System for Home Computers (Personal Ancestral File) . . . At $35.00 the package is a bargain." PAF has been available for years on the Internet (website address is not included in this book) and it has been free for just as long. This works continues to show its age when it provides a physical address for the Family History Library so you can inquire about resources, but no mention at all of

A freshening up of the content of this book would also include adding website addresses for places like state vital records offices as well as updating the bibliography.

While there are things I didn't like about this book, I will say that the glossary is a good reference tool for kinship-related word definitions. The book is written in a way that it is easy to understand various relationships. This is not a book to learn the ins and outs of family history research since the information is so outdated. The author's writing style will not be to everyone's liking but with that said I think it does provide the information you need to better understand kinship relations.

Kinship: It's All Relative, Enlarged Second Edition, by Jackie Smith Arnold. Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012.

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