Book Review: Vital Records Handook by Thomas Jay Kemp


I have long admired Thomas Jay Kemp MLS for his scholarship and expertise. His book, The American Census Handbook, is just one example of his outstanding contributions to the field of genealogy.  A well-known librarian and archivist,  he is the Chair of the Genealogy Committee of the American Library Association (ALA) and a past chair of the ALA history section. He is a member of the board of directors of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and the editor of the Local History & Genealogy Librarian andLocal History & Genealogy Librarian News. Tom has been working on his genealogy for the past 44 years. Kemp is the author of more than 30 books and is the Director of Genealogy at NewsBank and  he writes a blog at http://Blog.GenealogyBank.com.In this handbook, Mr. Kemp has gathered all the information you need to get birth, death and marriage information from around the world. As he points out in the introduction, although sometimes the certified copies of such documents may be restricted due to privacy and anti-theft laws, some governments allow an informational copy with the pertinent data to be issued  instead. He gives some good procedures for finding the right person to ask, especially in non-U.S. countries.So, for each state, and many countries, one will find instructions, fees, mailing addresses and the actual official form to use. In addition, many online, searchable databases are included.The forms are reproducible, but the binding makes that difficult. Although it is already priced at about  $50 at the publisher’s website, and I know this suggestion would add to the cost, I think it would be more usable for the average, hobbyist genealogist if it were spiral, comb or even notebook bound. This would make using this excellent resource much easier.I do think this is a must have for any library with a genealogy section, and I can imagine that a certified professional genealogist might use this almost daily.You can buy this book at the link above, or at the publisher’s, Genealogical Publishing Company.

About Libbi

Writer for 30 years. Genealogy a hobby for about 40 years. Yes, I'm in my 50's, I learned about genealogy at my mother's knee!
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