Monday, August 29, 2011

Tracing Family History Magazine


From as early as I can remember I have loved magazines. The love is inherited. It's in my genes.

My Mother loved and collected magazines. Today this trait would probably be called hoarding. One room of the family home was set aside to store Mom's magazines. The stacks reached over six feet tall and were in alphabetic order. There was a stack for each magazine; National Geographic, Look, and Life. I never had to go to the library to complete a school project I just opened the door to “the magazine room."

Perhaps more correctly, it's an addiction. fM's addiction. I thought you might enjoy sharing my addiction with me, as I discuss the magazines I read and why I read them, one magazine at a time, from the real to the digital world.

The journey begins with Tracing Family History Magazine, also known as Your Family History in the United Kingdom. Yes, a UK magazine and before you dismiss this as having nothing of value to US readers, think again - hear me out - you’re in for a pleasant surprise.

Tracing is published in the UK by Wharncliffe Publishing and edited by Nick Barratt. Nick Barratt is probably the UKs best known genealogist, having been the genealogical consultant for series 1 to 4 of the BBC show Who Do You Think You Are? and the author of numerous history and genealogy books. Think Megan Smolenyak.

The magazine is relatively new, having published its first issue in May of 2010. Prior to publishing Tracing, Wharncliffe published the National Archives magazine Ancestors, another of my favorites.

I love their tag line, “Our Experts Your Stories.” For those who have complained about the celebrity centric genealogy television shows and longed for family history that talks about real research by real people, this is the magazine for you. While the magazine originally did a celebrity feature in each issue, they have been dropped in favor of internet research based articles and features.

Tracing is reader driven. It features its readers’ stories, discoveries, mysteries, documents, photographs and more in every issue. Readers are encouraged to join debates, submit problems to the experts, and suggest or write topics for feature articles. They accept submissions and questions from readers outside the UK. If you have one, they’re interested.

I like the size of the magazine, 8.5 X 11.5. No straining to read the type, the magazine layout design is easy on the eyes. Tracing is full color and employs good use of white space, illustrations and photographs. Consistency in design makes it easy to find articles in past issues.

The magazine has certain mainstays features that appear in each issue.

Beginner’s Guides/How Tos. When it comes to researching my UK ancestors I find these invaluable. I’m unfamiliar with most UK resources, so Tracing gives me a lesson with every issue. The Chris Paton articles “Scottish Beginners Guide” and “Scottish Land Records” are important to my Campbell research. I may not be a novice researcher, but I am a beginner in this area of research.

The People’s Archive/Village Voice series taps the history of the resources found in every area; its people. These are wonderful stories of personal discoveries and town histories by town historians.

Spotlight On selects a different geographical area, archive, or event with each issue and introduces you to the resources that are available to family historians for each.

Casebook features reader success stories dotted with documents and amazing old photographs. Talk about inspiration, they’ve got it here.

Nick's Last Word, opinions and information on timely topics that are certain to engage you.

Along with the "in every issue columns," you'll find feature articles, a cover story, news and events. One of my favorite articles was “Jane Austen, Fashion Icon” written by fashion historian and picture specialist Jayne Shrimpton. Articles on Social History always interest me for their use in describing our ancestors’ way of life, identifying photographs and so much more. All the history articles are beautifully written and illustrated.

Here was an article I enjoyed so much I actually did further research on my own; the “History Mysteries” article in the November 2010 issue on the famous Dr. Crippen murder mystery.

The April 2011 issue contained an excellent article on Civil War research and surname mapping. Truth be told, I find something of value in every issue I read. Take a look; I think you’ll be impressed.

The act of researching is common to all family historians. Articles on methods, techniques, organization, etc. are applicable no matter where we geographically do our research. The articles in Tracing magazine are exceptionally well written and have been of great help in my own research.

Although dotted with wonderful old photographs to illustrate the stories, my one wish would be to see a photograph specific article in every issue.

The magazine is published 13 times per year. At today’s exchange rate a subscription costs about $145. (You can purchased a 6 month subscription - the free gift with purchase is not available in the US.) Yes, UK magazines are more expensive. I buy Tracing by the issue at Barnes and Noble so that I can pick which issues are more pertinent to me. The only trouble? I find I’m purchasing every issue. It’s time to get that subscription. Quality is worth it.

I would be thrilled if the magazine had a digital issue. Something I could load on my iPad as I do with several of the UK design magazines. At the moment they don't have a digital edition, but are contemplating one. Perhaps you could head to their facebook page and tell them you’d like to see one.

Tracing has an extremely active facebook page and Twitter account that keep you up to date on the magazine, the genealogy world, contests, polls, and questions posted by readers. They maintain a Your Family History web page with all the information you need to know about the magazine. One more wish? I'd love to see a comprehensive list of all the articles that have been published in the magazine available online.

I would also like to thank Megan Sagar, the Subscriptions Executive for Wharncliffe History Magazines for her patience, for answering all my questions about the magazine and for sending several issues to compliment my stash so that I could write this article.

As my Mother "the magazine expert" always said, “Quality will out,” and it is certainly out and about in Tracing Family History Magazine.


Blogger Brett Payne said...

Thanks for a great article fm ... and a wonderful gra[hic, by the way. Are there enough hours in the day to read all one's blog subscriptions AND real magazines.

August 29, 2011 at 2:30 PM  
Blogger footnoteMaven said...

Give up sleeping! I have. And thank you for noticing the graphic. A bit of work there.


August 29, 2011 at 2:43 PM  

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