Review – Unofficial Guide Book

Unofficial Guide yo Book Jacket front and back
Click the Book to Purchase on Amazon

Book Title: Unofficial Guide to How to Find Your Family History on the #1 Genealogy Website

Author: Nancy Hendrickson, Second Edition, Copyright (C) 2018

Publisher: by Family Tree Books, an imprint of F+W Media, Inc.

The main objective of this book is as a companion guide to Ancestry, as the title suggests. It is a step-by-step guide for creating and managing your family tree, plus how to connect with other users and utilize the site’s powerful Hint system.

The Author, in her introduction, is very personable in her approach, which makes for a feel-good atmosphere. She even gives her email address and an offer to contact her if you need help, very admirable.

Her style of writing is personable through this book; she is interested in helping the reader get the most out of this book to use Ancestry with ease.

In the years since we published the first edition of this book, has grown at an amazing rate. The number of records available on the site has skyrocketed, and its functionality and interface have changed, making it more accessible to even the newest genealogy searcher”.

Part One: Getting Started with

There are Three Chapters in this section.

Chapter 1: Learning the Basics:

Here, the author talks about Ancestry being the largest genealogy website and the extent of their records. She proceeds to mention the Ancestry Network, which is extensive.

The Network:

Then we read about Memberships

Membership to provides access to numerous collections and databases where you can find census, vital, military, and immigration records, as well as other members’ online family trees.”

“If you don’t yet have an membership, you can join at four different membership levels.”

In my article “Genealogy Research Sites – Let’s Compare,” You can find a Site Comparison Pricing Chart PDF that has Ancestry Pricing.

Getting Started in Family Tree Research

The author then mentions how some families, might have Family Lore that has passed from generation to generation that suggests the family has a famous relative. She encourages the reader to avoid those temptations of starting with the famous person to no avail but begin with themselves. Then go back and see if the famous person appears. She gives wise advice as one could spend a lot of time and not find any relationship with the renowned family lore.

The reader is encouraged to start their family research by organizing what documentation they already have and any additional from family members, beginning with the older family members.

She goes through the different family history information to watch for, in your search for family documentation.

Then she proceeds to walk us through the process of Setting Up Your Ancestry Account; she is very detailed as she walks through this process. She often adds additional information that might get overlooked in the membership process.

We proceed to Explore the Menu Items; I like the way she explains and walks through each step. Explore the Main Menu Bar; she breaks this down with an image of the bar.

She then walks through the steps to View and Customize Your Home Page and is quite detailed of the benefit of setting up your page to assist in your research needs. In addition to default modules, you can add or remove different sections by dragging and dropping she, goes through this process in detail.

Chapter 2: Using Family Trees:

Is the next part. Here the author introduces us to the process of, Building Your First Family Tree. Here you will learn how to manually create a tree or upload a GEDCOM to create your tree. She once again is very detailed in this process and explains the steps in detail.

The author also goes through software programs and how to connect your tree to the software, namely Roots Magic and Family Tree Maker.

Keep in mind other software programs will sync to Ancestry as well you are not limited to only two.

We then find information to Explore Your Family Trees. As the author goes to detail about how to view your tree in either Pedigree View or Family View, then proceeded with instruction on how to start research with the Individual Profile and how to use Search, Tools, Edit.

The rest of Chapter 2, you continue to discover more tools:

  • Life story: Is a visual timeline
  • Facts: displays your ancestor’s vital statistics
  • Hints: that Ancestry believes are related to your individual
  • Managing your tree: Each of your tree’s Info and Privacy settings & sharing
  • Ancestry Mobile Apps: Leaves on the Go
  • Add content to your tree: Photos, Video, Audio, Stories
  • Analyzing: Using and correcting Hints
  • Other Researchers: Connecting via Member Connect

The Author, to this point, is straightforward to follow. And as I have alluded to very detailed and easy to follow. I have been using Ancestry for quite a while. And in reading her introduction and the first two chapters, I picked up on things I have overlooked that would have made the process easier.

Chapter 3: Mastering Search and the Card Catalog:

While chapters 1 and 2 introduced you to genealogy basics and the value of family trees, this is the chapter you’ve been waiting for—tips for searching the thousands of collections and billions of names on”.

Yes, chapter 3 is the meat and potatoes of mastering the ability to research using In this section The Basic of Search you learn that this is the first section you see on your home page.

If you use the basic search form, you should enter as much information about your ancestor as possible. If you’re lucky, you may immediately hit the jackpot. But if you are searching for a common name, even having an approximate birth year can yield thousands of results, most of them are irrelevant. Click Show More Options next to the Search button this will expand the search form so you can search with more information”.

The above quote from the book is just a small example of the information you will be privy to as you read and follow the steps in this book.

This chapter is full of valuable how-to research; the author is very thorough in her explanation of and once again goes into detail.

You will be learning in detail the different methods of using the search fields and the various combinations that can produce the best results; this is the hot spot.

Following, I have listed the Titles of the remaining Parts and Chapters: As you will be able to see, there are tons of valuable information. And The Author continues to go into detail in each section.

Part Two: Digging into Record on

Chapter 4: Making the Most of Census Records and Voter List

Chapter 5: Delving into Birth, Marriage, and Death Records

Chapter 6: Working with Military Records

Chapter 7: Using Immigration and Travel Records

Chapter 8: Digging into Newspapers, Publications, and Maps

Chapter 9: Searching Stories, Memories, Histories, and Pictures

Chapter 10: Making the Most of Schools, Directories, and Church Histories

Chapter 11: Using the Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal Category

Part Three: Uncovering Ancestors with Ancestry DNA

Chapter 12: Interpreting Your DNA Results

Chapter 13: Connecting with Others

Chapter 14: Applying DNA to your Research

Part Four: Diving Deeper into

Chapter 15: Collaborating with other users

Chapter 16: Branching out with and Fold3

Appendix: Quick Links and Shortcut Keys

About the Author: Nancy Hendrickson is a genealogy author, blogger, and instructor at Family Tree University <>. A contributing editor at Family Tree Magazine, Nancy writes almost exclusively about Internet genealogy, research, and American history. She’s a member of Western Writers of America and long-time photography buff. Nancy is active on Facebook <>, Twitter (@genealogyteach), and Pinterest <>. You can find her at her website or contact her via e-mail:

Hendrickson, Nancy. Unofficial Guide to F+W Media. Kindle Edition.

In Conclusion:

This book is a must for anyone serious about using In my reading of this book. I have discovered many techniques that I was unaware of prior and have found them useful as I tested them in my research.

When you purchase this book, make sure you read Chapters 1-3 the ones I summarized above are a have to read straight through.

unofficial workbook
Click the Book to Purchase the Companion WorkBook from Amazon

You might also be interested in Nancy Hendrickson’s, Unofficial Workbook.

The rest of the book, read for referencing when you are ready to research the topics of each chapter.

This book is a long read straight through if you are not already familiar with Ancestry. But used as suggested you will significantly benefit from all the knowledge that Nancy has so graciously shared.

So, my conclusion is that this book is perfect, very professionally written. And will benefit everyone regardless of the level of experience with or any aspect of genealogy research.

Your thoughts will be gratefully appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time.

Kindest Regards


18 thoughts on “ Review – Unofficial Guide Book”

  1. Love Ancestry dot com I started using it a couple of years ago when I inherited the family tree information. This unofficial guide from Nancy Hendrickson looks like it would be a great addition to my resources and I will take a closer look on Amazon. I have never done the DNA do you think it is worth investing in ? 

    • Hello Martin,

      Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I enjoy Ancestry as well. 

      You are right this book would defiantly be an added resource to anyone’s library. The Author has done a wonderfully job with this Second Edition. If you use e-books, you can review the introduction and 1st chapter through the kindle edition of this book. 

      As of yet, I personally have not had an interest with DNA, right at this time in my life. Having said that, my interest could change if I were to study more on the subject. Once I know more about the benefits of DNA I would be able to answer that question. I really enjoy the unknown and the search. Sorry, I was not able to answer you question. 

      Kindest Regards


  2. Hi Rose, ancestry is a topic that always catches my attention. I love the fact that a book has been written on it, I have to read this book. I would love to trace who my ancestors were and creat an ancestral tree for my children and their children. I started from me to my parents but I can’t seem to get past my grand parents. How do I go further? 

    • Hello Juliet,

      Thank you for talking the time to read my article. Even though this book is an unofficial guide to Ancestry, the Author has the experience in genealogy research, and particularly Ancestry. 

      That is what drew my attention, I have experience with ancestry but, she goes into detail with an easy to understand explanation of each step. As I mentioned in the article the Author points out that every level of experience will benefit. 

      I understand your desire to have a family tree so your children and grandchildren know there ancestors. 

      I like you struggled with my Mother’s grandparents. I have names that I am pretty sure is my line, I note them an make a separate tree, till I have verified the information. It can be challenging, but a challenge is always welcomed!  

      Sometimes it is a waiting game, for new records to be indexed, or another person might have the same person in their tree and share it. When I get stuck and can’t find a great grandparent, I look for Census records and try to find my grandparent (name and birth year known) as a child. 

      Hope this has been helpful, Please let me know if I can assist in any way. 

      Kindest Regards


  3. This is indeed an interesting book. I only heard about ancestry dot com once and recently I’ve been curious about my ancestors. Is this a stand-alone book or is there another book with similar topic? I might want to check the book. At least I might buy it in a bulk with my other upcoming books-to-buy. Is there any sample for chapter 1? Thanks you

    • Hello Alblue, 

      Thank you for your interest in this review of the Unofficial Guide to Ancestry. I think it is only natural for all of us to have a spark of interest to know our heritage, and that is where it all starts with curiosity. 

      Yes, this is a standalone book, the Authors Second Edition. She has a workbook that could be used as well, she states the workbook could be used as a standalone also, you can find the link to that book towards the end of the article.  

      With the Kindle edition of the book you can preview the introduction and 1st chapter before purchasing. Thank you. 

      Please, let me know if I can be of any assistance. 

      Kindest Regards


  4. Great review of the unofficial guide book to Ancestry.  This is exactly what I need.  For years, I have been interested in doing genealogy research with this website but it seems so intimidating, I mean where do you start? Where do you find records?  And then there is DNA samples, do I want to do that, should I do that?  I love the idea that this book will walk me through all the steps, while giving me important information and insight into each step. I really like that there are tips on how to research and find records and what to do if finding information about your relatives becomes harder than expected. I intend to purchase this book and delve into this new adventure with confidence!  Thank you so much.

    • Hello,  Thank you, for stopping and taking the time to read my review.  Awesome, Looks as if you are serious about finding your ancestors. 

      I know it can be quite overwhelming, the questions keep running through your mind, I totally can appreciate that feeling, I’ve been there before.  

      Yes, it is great how the author of the book walks us through a step by step process that totally eases the frustration that can develop as we jump ahead, then retrace our step when we get frustrated. It is great the way she adds tips and difficulties to watch fore, and what to do if encountered. 

      I glad you are intending to purchase the guide book, I know you will find it most useful. If there is anything I can do to assist you in your research just let me know.

      Kindest Regards



  5. Thank you so much to the author who has written down this kind of such a beneficial article.  This article opened my mind to the fact that our passion matter alot. I have read about ancestry before now but i had necer tasted its benefits this much. This is an eye opener for me and I appreciate you for sgaring this lovely article.

    • Hello Tracy,

      Thank you, for your kind acknowledgment of my article, and the benefit it brings to finding ancestors. Yes, having a passion for the subject diffidently helps, thanks for that acknowledgment as well. 

      As you already have some experience with Ancestry, this book would provide a refresher and advance tools enhancing your research for your ancestors.

      When you decide you want to continue with your research and take advantage of what this book has to offer, let me know if I can be of assistance.

      Kindest Regards


  6. Thanks for writing this review on Unofficial Guide Book to ancestry website. I must commend you for taking your time to write this review,although this is my first time of hearing about this website that can help you to find your family history across the globe and I must say am impressed. Even if this book is not official it really important for someone like me that will like to make use of the website with all I have go through in this review.

    • Hello Afolabi, 

      Thanks, for taking the time to read my review of Unofficial guide to I also appreciate the fact that this review has sparked an interest in finding your family history. 

      Yes, it is wonderful to be able to find ones ancestors anywhere in the world, with online websites like Ancestry, they and others have immense amount of records that have been digitized, so our search is made easier. 

      This guide book is a convenient way to utilize the vast amount of information available by taking a step by step approach. When you are ready to start reading the book, let me know if you require any assistance.

      Kindest Regards


  7. Awesome article Rose. I’m much impressed with your genuine interest on genealogy. Your article is much detailed and analysis of the book is complete.

    I first get the genealogy from Bible itself. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 1. It triggered my interest in this area and your article makes a much better sense to me now. I’ll have a look at this book. It’s content looks so amazing.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this post.

    • Hello Akshay, 

      I am so glad you enjoyed my article, and appreciate the acknowledgement of my passion for genealogy. Thank you, for liking the book review, it is a great guide to help you get started with genealogy research. 

      I too appreciate the Biblical accounts of genealogy, it certainly is not a new concept our ancient ancestors kept their family records and past them on to the next generation. The Bible is an influence in my life.

      If you are in need of assistance, just let me know.

      Kindest Regards


  8. Going back in time to know where I came from, who were my ancestors many generations ago, has been an interest to me. 

    I have never tried to research how to go about that until much recently. In the process I came across your post and learned about Ancestrydotcom. I will like to try it out, according to your review, it seems to be a wonderful guide to trace my ancestry. 

    • Hello Peace, 

      Thank you for taking the time to find out what this guide book has to offer. I am glad to hear you have an interest in finding your ancestors.

      Discovering where you came from many generations ago is so exciting. I get so excited that I sometimes go to fast and have to check myself, to be certain of the accuracy of the information I have just found. 

      By using this guide book, you would be able to pace yourself and not get to rushed, it takes you though the process one step at a time, and make the whole experience enjoyable. Good Luck with you search. 

      Kindest Regards



  9. I have always loved history; fidning out your roots and where everything started as your family tree is one of the ost fascinating subjects I have ever found. I am constantly trying to dig deeper in what my past has been , to see where everything began because it is something I would really love to give to my kids. I had not heard of the book before, it seems it’s exactly what I need. Thank you for your great review, I really hope to be able to achieve this dream of mine.

    • Hello Barbara, 

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my review. And you are right finding your roots is a history. I love history as well all kinds, but especially my own history, so I know what you mean, to see where everything began. And to have a history of your ancestors to pass on to your children is a great gift.  

      This guide book makes the process of using Ancestry much easier than starting by yourself.  You are welcome, for the review, and I glad that you are interested in finding your ancestors. 

      Your dream will come true if you take one step at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself. 

      Kindest Regards


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