Book Review: Practical Genealogy by Brian Sheffey

Practical Genealogy by Brian Sheffey

50 Simple Steps to Research Your Diverse Family History

Rockridge Press (May 12, 2020)

Genealogy/Family History


Uncover facts and mysteries of your ancestors―a clear approach to genealogy

The pursuit of family history tends to be shaped by several motives, including finding a larger familial historical picture, preserving the past for future generations, and storytelling. Practical Genealogy provides a method for investigating your family history by establishing an understanding of genealogy and the factors, tasks, and obstacles involved in the research. The end goal: find the information necessary to piece together your heritage.

Follow 50 steps that will fill in the puzzle of your lineage. Learn how to perform your own investigation through the lens of real-world obstacles like tracing ancestry through adoptions and orphanages. Practical Genealogy simplifies and breaks down the complex research process into actionable tips that can be conducted over a period of time. And most importantly, no blood test is necessary.

Inside Practical Genealogy you’ll find:

  • Break through barriers―Learn how to negotiate common “brick wall” issues like missing chunks of family history or multiple names found for the same person.
  • Case studies―Examples of actual genealogy research are provided to support the comprehension of each step of your exploration.
  • See the BIG picture―Large fonts and easy-to-read images make learning easy for older adults.

When you take genealogy research into your own hands, your potential for discovery is limitless.





Full of helpful research information. Provides 50 steps to trace your ancestry, some you will use, others you won’t. It’s a clear method for investigating your family history and finding the information necessary to complete your heritage. The author breaks down the complex research process. I’m not at the point where I want to go too deep into research, I’m looking to just go back to my Grandparents or perhaps my Great-Grandparents.  Unfortunately, there are not many relatives left to get the names and history from, but hoping the basic information I have will get my search started.

Reviewed by Comfy Chair Books/Lisa Reigel (April 25, 2020)

ARC provided by publisher via Callisto Publishing Club




“I am the child of European royalty, America’s founding fathers, Native Americans, and enslaved Africans. The American chattel slavery system is literally encoded in my DNA.”
– BBC 2 Interview

An engaging and thought-provoking public speaker, Brian has expertise in DNA, mid-Atlantic & Southern research, with an emphasis on the intersection of white, black, and Native American genealogy. He has used his knowledge to solve cases of unknown parentage from Colonial America to the present day utilizing DNA and paper trail evidence.

Brian’s passion for genealogy was initially inspired by his father, and his father’s drive and desire to discover the story of his family. This understanding inspires his work to help others uncover their own ancestral stories. He combines years of experience in marketing research and academia with a passion for genealogical research – and a unique ability to solve seemingly impossible cases. His primary research interests include cases of unknown parentage, such as identifying the white progenitors of mulatto family lines; and triangulating answers to tough genealogical questions using traditional records and genetic evidence.

Behind his passion for research lies the belief that genealogy is an opportunity to connect with Americans from different backgrounds to enable them to connect with each other – and make connections around the globe.



One thought on “Book Review: Practical Genealogy by Brian Sheffey

  1. sounds interesting. I’m lucky I had to do a report in 6th grade and was able to get information from relatives before they passed on. One side has kept pretty good records since the family arrived in the US. We’ve never used an online service. I’m sure a book like this could help point me in the right direction to find more info.



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