Book Review

Vena’s Roots, An Anderson/Boothby Family History by Seema-Jayne Kenney (Upton, Mass.: the author, 2013, xi + 182 pp., illustrations, bibliography, index. Softcover). Order from the author, P.O. Box 888, Upton, MA 01568,

Winner of the Brainard T. Peck Award for Family History, given by the Connecticut Society of Genealogists in May 2014, this book treats known ancestors of the author’s grandmother, Vena Frances (Anderson) Bergquist. It is full of photographs, copies of documents and charts, all arranged with plenty of white space and a large font to make for easy reading.

Beginning with Vena, the work covers ten generations, plus an “unconfirmed ancestry” running back from John Prescott of Lancaster, Massachusetts, to Alfred the Great, King of England, relying on Frederick Lewis Weis’s Descent of John Prescott (1948). The recent generations are documented by original sources, especially interviews with living people, vital and census records, town histories, and city directories. Generous quotations, for example from obituaries, help to bring the subjects to life. Children for each couple are listed with vital data. However, for the earliest generations, the author has relied on previously published books, parts of which may have been superseded by later publications.

Following the section on the families, there are photocopies of forty-nine documents, an interesting chart for converting pounds and dollars to 1982 dollars, and an explanation of “double-dating” before 1752.

The author has meticulously documented each statement, generally following the guidelines in Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained. While such lengthy citations are necessary for anyone seeking certification and are helpful in work for clients, most scholarly genealogical journals rely on simpler citation formats. Examples appear online as “Register Citation Formats” at in the section on Publications —»the Register —> Register style and submissions. Also, after the first full citation of a work, the author could have saved much space by using short citations, usually only the surname of the author and an abbreviated title. When there is a bibliography, as in this work, it is easy to fully identify the subject of a short citation.

This is a very nice work which will be much appreciated by the family and other close relatives. Anyone thinking of doing something similar might take a look at it.

Helen Schatvet Ullmann