Jul 29 2012

My Mom’s New Book

I know that there are a lot of FTB readers who know me best for my history work, and that some of you people are into history in general, and not just the debunking of the Christian nationalist historical lies that I do, so I thought I’d let you know about an interesting new book by my mom, Anne Patterson Rodda.

My mom is a professional genealogist, and even more fanatical about research than I am, if that’s possible. I really think some kind of research gene runs in the family — besides me and my mom, I also have an uncle who has written a number of excellent books on the Civil War, and a sister who literally wrote the book on how college students should do research for their papers (a great book if you have high school or college age kids and want to keep them from doing their research on Wikipedia!).

A typical phone conversation with my mom goes something like this one we had a few days ago when I was telling her about a discovery I had just made while debunking something for the book I’m writing to rebut David Barton’s book The Jefferson Lies.

I was telling her what records I had found to document someone’s real age (the lie I’m debunking involves proving that someone in the 1800s was lying about their age in order to make another lie they were telling sound believable). So I went to the 1850, 1860, and 1870 federal census records, which show that I was absolutely right about this person lying about their age, and also show roughly when this person first started lying about their age.

Now, I consider myself to have very rigorous standards when it comes to documenting stuff, as I’m sure people who have read Liars For Jesus already know, and I was completely satisfied that three different federal census records would be enough proof for anyone. But apparently not for my mom!

When I told her what records I already had to document the age of this person — three different freakin’ federal censuses! — she said, “Well, that sounds like enough, but didn’t you also check the 1820 through 1840 censuses?” I said, “C’mon, mom, you know that they didn’t list people’s ages before 1850,” to which she replied, “But they did list the age ranges.” So, I then had to go check the censuses where the age range of this person would be able to confirm what I already found (and my mom was right — one of those earlier censuses did fall in a year where the age range can be used to show that this person was later lying about their age).

Anyway, back to my mom’s new book. It’s titled Trespassers in Time: Genealogists and Microhistorians.

Here’s the description from the back cover:

Anne Patterson Rodda, Certified Genealogist, has a Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) degree in Irish Studies from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey, U.S.A.

Anne has been a genealogist since 1990, specializing in tracing to the birthplaces of emigrants to America. Starting with her own ancestors from Denmark, Germany, and Ireland, she became immersed in Irish genealogy over the years. Spending more and more time in Ireland, she learned its history and culture as family historians do, through the eyes of antecedents.

“I heard about the graduate program in Irish Studies at Drew University, with Christine Kinealy, their Professor of Irish History, just when my research was pulling me into learning more about Irish history, literature, and culture. I wanted to learn how to place family histories in their wider historical context, as genealogists strive to do.”

So began Anne’s exploration of the various methodologies of historical research used over the centuries and on through to the most recent theories being discussed in the United States and in Europe.

Trespassers in Time is a review of Anne’s study of the history of history. Her exploration led to her belief that microhistory is the most useful approach for genealogists. She invites readers to explore with her and draw their own conclusions.

My mom is really good at this genealogy stuff (as I know from listening to her telling me all the time about the things she’s uncovered and how she did it), and her book is very interesting (and I’m not just saying that because she’s my mom and I have to — it really is a very interesting read). So, if you’re interested in genealogy, particularly Irish genealogy, or just in Irish history, definitely check it out.

OK … plug for mom’s book accomplished … now back to getting my own damn book done!



  1. 1

    I just ordered one for my Mom-in-law, who is an avid nonprofessional genealogist. (My own pile of to-be-read books is so tall, I can’t justify adding another right now.) I’ll pass along any comments.

  2. 2

    I’ve been doing my family history for a while, but have just recently uncovered a group of Irish that I am starting to take a closer look at. Sounds like this book needs to be on my reading list!

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