Masterful genealogical articles

+6 votes

In most fields of research, there are publications that stand out — articles or essays that frequently enter conversations between practitioners, that are the go-tos for master classes.

In genealogy, I'd guess most a lot of people would point to Anderson's Great Migration series and Richardson's Magna Carta Ancestry etc. as the masterworks. These stand as magnum opera and are vast achievements.

But I wonder about smaller pieces. Are there journal articles or even particular portions of Anderson or Richardson or their ilk that are considered examplars of masterful genealogical problem solving, methodology, or exposition? A particular problem solved or family line revealed, where people unrelated to the individuals involved still talk about and marvel at the work? 

in The Tree House by Barry Smith G2G6 Pilot (220k points)

The works of Donald Lines Jacobus immediately come to mind. I especially like Families of Ancient New Haven.

William Wade Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy is also imminently respectable.

Elizabeth Pearson White’s work on the descendants of Pilgrim John Howland in a genealogical tour de force.

My favorite book for “genealogical fun” is Gary Boyd Robertson’s Ancestors of American Presidents.

Re White's works: the one time I looked up an ancestor in there, the analysis was obviously confused and wrong. I seem to recall getting the impression from the little the Mayflower Society says about her books that maybe what I encountered was not an anomaly.
Elizabeth White was the lead Howland researcher at the Mayflower Society for many years, until her death I believe.
Yes, and they don't just hand you an FASG. But when you manage a project of that size, you either end up relying on others or doing more than is humanly possible. So it is hard to let mistakes creep in. That's partly why I asked specifically about smaller articles, that should be easier to get close to perfect.

I tracked down the quote I had read, which came from a state historian of part of the GSMD, so I guess not an official representative of the organization, but still probably knows a thing or two:

The interesting bits describe how in the early days of the Silver Book project, "the Howlands insisted that THEY would do Howland; it was envisioned as a 10 volume set, to be published by Picton Press... Elizabeth Pearson White, compiler, got the first two books: DESIRE and JOHN, done, fairly well, but then she produced NOTHING more for years. In the early 2000s the GSMD informed the Howlands that since they had not produced any more volumes, the GSMD would have to take Howland over. At that point Ms. White said she had HOPE and ELIZABETH close to being done, and it was agreed that she would finish those (thought they are not up to the standards met in Desire and John) ... these later two books have many more mistakes in them than the first two books."

I had looked in the Hope volume for the ancestor I mentioned, so it looks like I would have been better off if I descended from Desire or John. It also sounds like White was running this completely by herself. If so, then it is not surprising that with such a large project, and time pressure, that mistakes would enter.

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