Congratulations on an excellent article, “Genealogy: The Search for a Personal Past,” in the current A MERICAN H ERITAGE . As a thirty-year member of the DAR I was gratified to note that you stuck to facts about that organization, which is the largest lineage-based society in our country. As a professional genealogist for more than fifteen years, I believe the information in your article was much more accurate than most of those on genealogy I have read in the last years of booming interest in that subject.
I was surprised, however, that you mentioned the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and their publication begun in 1870 rather than the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s periodical, The Register , which has been in continuous existence since 1847.
Mr. Andrews, author of your article, is correct in saying that genealogical research in the South is conducted differently from that done in New England, but this is not entirely because of the all-too-frequent courthouse fires in the South. In New England people lived in towns and had their vital statistics recorded by the town clerk, whereas in the South people lived on plantations and it was inconvenient to travel long distances to the county seat in order to have information recorded. Thus, the researcher should look first in town records for a New Englander, but in the South he might find data in wills, deeds, family Bibles, and old letters. The difference in the way of life in these two sections of our nation is at least as important as the destruction wrought by fire.