Friday, April 20, 2007

Review of Virginia Immigrants and Adventures

As promised on our 12 April show, we are publishing here a review of Virginia Immigrants and Adventures:

Martha W. McCartney, Virginia Immigrants and Adventures 1607 – 1635: A Biographical Dictionary (Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007). 833 pp., $49.95.

Martha McCartney provides an excellent collection of biographical information on the early colonists along the James River from difficult to obtain primary sources. Virginia Immigrants and Adventures 1607 – 1635: A Biographical Dictionary will no doubt become a favorite work of students and genealogists of colonial Virginia history. That said, this is clearly a reference work. The format of the book is alphabetic for the most part, except where family groups appear listed together. This means that if the person being sought was identified with his/her parents, it may be necessary to search all the entries of the surname to locate the pertinent biography. This problem is negated, however, by the index included at the end of the book, making the book fairly easy to use.

In addition to the biographical information, McCartney has used her knowledge of the early geography of the area to link individuals to a particular place within the area. A map shows the areas where information on the individuals included in the book resided. Each biography references this map. This will be helpful in tracing individuals from the period in which counties govern the area, to this early period where individuals are identified by plantation or now defunct city. The first portion of the book also includes a brief description of the colonization of this area, describing, in great detail, each of the locations referenced on the map.

Clearly a work of many years diligent effort, scholars and genealogists alike may expect to benefit from the wealth of information McCartney has amassed. Unlike most histories and biographies covering this time period, McCartney has clearly tried to gather information on every person mentioned in the available records for this area. This makes it a source for information about the lives and habits of people which are widely available nowhere else.

Amanda Sims, MA (Pending, in history)

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