'Donald Akenson writes authoritatively and with verve about this controversial mixture of religion, politics, and culture ... this is a good book that rewards repeated readings.' Books in Canada
In this age of information, genealogical research has become one of the most popular activities in the world, and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the most important resources. Started in 1894, the Mormon genealogical project has grown to include two billion names, 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, and 278,000 books, making it the world's largest collection of genealogical information. Donald Akenson explains and evaluates the history and functioning of this massive undertaking and, in the process, provides an insightful study of the Mormon scriptures and their implications for genealogical work. Using supporting evidence that runs from the Solomon Islands and classical China to ancient Ireland, Akenson argues that there are four basic genealogical forms. Highly significant on its own, this insight also provides the information needed to assess the Latter-day Saints' efforts to provide a single narrative of how humanity keeps track of itself. Appendices cover topics of vital interest to historians, genealogists, and ethnographers, such as the use and limits of genetic data in genealogy, the reality of false-paternity as a widespread phenomenon in genealogical lines, and the vexing issues of incest and cousin-marriage. A unique study of a neglected topic, Some Family illuminates the stories that cultures tell themselves through their family trees.