I recently received a book to review from Dundurn Press called Time Traveller’s Handbook A Guide to the Past, by Althea Douglas. The author, Althea Douglas has written many articles and books on genealogy but more specifically, Canadian genealogy.
Time Traveller’s Handbook is written for those conducting research on their Canadian ancestors, but is valuable to those with U.S. ancestors also. The book contains chapters on documents, traditions, money, travel, work and trade, family and connections, health and military heritage. The author’s goal is to present the information your ancestors once knew and took for granted, that we as researchers now need to know and understand.
Each chapter contains several examples for the points discussed. The reader walks away with a good understanding of the chapter topic. Another nice feature about the examples illustrate some differences between Canadians and U.S. citizens. For example, Canadians call the railroad a “railway” while in the U.S. we call it “railroad.” Canadians use one system of measurement while U.S. citizens use another. Things of that nature.
Most of the chapters contain tables of information. For example, the chapter called “What Every Schoolchild Used to Know” discusses in length about measurements. Measurements are given in table format for cooking and baking, surveying land and driving distance. You may recognize some of these tables from your school years.
Chapters also contain timelines of Canadian historical events and world events.These timelines are very helpful in placing ancestors into historical context and making a researcher think about other record possibilities. The chapter on “Health in the Past” is a good example of a timeline. The author provides a glossary of common health terms used in Canada prior to the 1900s and a timeline of health ranging from Hippocrates doctrine of the four humours in 460 B.C.E. to the swine flu pandemic in 2008-2009.
The book ends with a lengthy appendix outlining major historical events starting with the Edict of Nantes in 1598 to 2003 when the U.S. and U.K. declare war on Iraq. Following the timeline are the chapter notes and a bibliography.
This book is a quick read. It is one I will refer to repeatedly as I need that one piece of information to help explain something or place my ancestor in historical context. While written for the Canadian researcher, the book is invaluable to U.S. researchers because much of the information presented applies to U.S. ancestry as well.
For more information, visit Dundurn Press.
Disclosure statement: I received a free copy of Time Traveller’s Handbook to review on my sites.