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Review: Crash Course in Family History – Fifth Edition

crash course family history

crash course family history

If you wanted to introduce a friend or family member to genealogy and hope that they “catch the bug,” you can’t do better than to hand them a copy of Crash Course in Family History, Fifth Edition by Paul Larsen. Crash Course is over 338 pages of valuable information for genealogists and family historians, whether you’ve just started your research or you’ve been doing genealogy for years.

Crash Course covers every aspect of genealogy from how to get started to what are the latest resources being used today. Crash Course is just as useful to the intermediate genealogist too since I’m sure you’ll find listed many genealogy resources that you’ve heard of before.

Highlights – Why Crash Course Works So Well

There are several reasons why I like the way Crash Course works and why I think it is a great addition to your family history library:

  • 3-Easy-Steps: right out of the gate, Larsen provides an easy-to-use chart which is actually an index to the book. We aren’t all at the same stage in our genealogy journey, so you simply find where you want to start and then go!
  • Updated Information: Larsen is right on top of the latest developments in family history especially those involving the Internet. This includes DNA testing and results interpretation, the use of social media, and technology including tablets, mobile devices and more. Best of all? Larsen “gets” the concept of genealogy blogs, explains how to use RSS feeds and Feedly and highlights the entire genealogy blogging community including GeneaBloggers.
  • Covers the Basic Foundations of Methodology: You’ve got to love a book that stresses the use of a genealogy research log, analyzing your results and citing your sources!
  • Comprehensive List of Resources: One of the best uses of Crash Course for those who’ve already started on their research is to check for research resources. These include online resource covering US and International genealogy as well as archives, library and repositories.


I opted to receive a complimentary copy of Crash Course in Family History as a CD since I was traveling at the time and I didn’t want to pack a large book in my suitcase. Also, having PDF access to a genealogy book is better suited to my research and reading habits – so I was happy that Crash Course was available in this format.

Getting started was easy: I just took the CD from the package, popped it into my computer and opened the Greetings – READ THIS pdf. The greeting thanked me for purchasing Crash Course and also pointed out that there were two formats for the book in PDF – a large format (for larger screens) and a smaller format for mobile devices like my iPad.

I’m always impressed when I see a publisher offer a book in both print/hardcover and in electronic format. This tells me that the publisher understands and honors the different ways in which we as genealogists consume and use information.


As I’ve said in my previous review, I think that Crash Course in Family History is a great way for beginners to get started on their genealogy journey AND it also offers valuable tips and insights to those who’ve been doing genealogy for years. Great resources, easy-to-read format, beautiful illustrations – a complete package!

I feel so strongly about Crash Course, that it should be a required holding for every library including public libraries and genealogy society libraries. Crash Course makes a great gift (and the holidays are not far away) especially for those family members who’ve always said, “I want to do my genealogy someday!”

[Note: We previously reviewed Crash Course in Family History, Third Edition back in April 2010.]

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Crash Course in Family History – Fifth Edition is available in hardcover format via Amazon, Legacy Family Tree and the author’s website,; and as a digital download/CD via Legacy Family Tree and;

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved.