Whether the offspring of our love and labor be a clan or a Grafton
genealogy, we will now suppose it has attained its maturity. It will
grow no more. Not alone is the research complete, but our data has been
compiled into a book in manuscript form. What next?
We sincerely trust that no genealogical worker who reads these lines has
any other thought than that of giving the fruit of his labors to the
public. The whole genealogical world protests against any other idea. It
is a patriotic duty as well as a moral obligation to put it in print.
Having ourselves profited from the printed pages of many a worker, shall
we refuse to repay the debt?
We hope better things of every reader of this book, and assume that all
his researches are to appear in print as soon as they can be put into
proper shape. It matters not whether we have much or little, one page or
a thousand, enough copy for a chart, a pamphlet or a volume: it should
be printed and published. If we have worked out only a single ancestral
line, and have no leisure for further work, or must turn away from such
labor for some time to come, let us print what we have collected.
If we commit our manuscript to type, we are quite likely to receive a
rich reward. Some one sees our production, gets into communication with
us,–being interested along the same lines,–and very soon we find
ourselves learning things we long desired to know! Hundreds can tell of
Do not hesitate to print because your work is fragmentary or incomplete.
Sometimes one strikes a genealogical “snag,” and, do what he may, is
unable to proceed in the work of investigation. Under these
circumstances some genealogists become discouraged, holding back their
entire work for years in the hope of solving their perplexities. This is
the wrong way. It is much better to print the work in its incomplete
form, frankly setting forth the difficulties encountered. This has many
times resulted in the solution of the problem. Some one, somewhere, may
hold the key, and as soon as our printed page catches his eye he will
supply the needed link.
Sometimes two genealogists, unknown to each other, are at work on
intersecting lines, which cause them the greatest perplexity, while each
has in his hands the precise facts which would solve the other’s puzzle.
In this situation they may grope on for years without making material
progress. If they would only print what they have completed, each would
discover the complement of his work in the other, and each could then go
on with his task rejoicing.
Printing in itself is another reward. The exultant thrill of actual
authorship is only felt when we see our work in black and white on the
pages of the printed volume. This is the true goal of literary desire.
But this leads us to warn all that only correct and tasteful printing
produces this result. Poor type, incompetent proof-reading and inferior
presswork produce that which will be a perpetual eyesore and
humiliation. When we have come to the point of printing, we cannot
afford to practice an undue economy. It is not even “good business” to
do so. People do not like to add inferior specimens of book-making to
their libraries, and every publisher knows that the quality of the
printing may turn the balance and make or mar the success of a book.
Peculiar difficulties attend the printing of genealogies because of
their charts, names and dates. We must have exact work as well as
tasteful work, and neither of these things is found everywhere, while
still less frequently are they found in combination.
In the first place, we would say, put your manuscript in the hands of
careful and responsible parties. It is your treasure, and you cannot
afford to entrust it to those who will not provide a safe place for it,
and guard and watch over it from beginning to end.
In the second place, choose a printer who is accustomed to genealogical
work. This is always preferable. Only thus can we obtain the facilities
and the experience our book deserves. When the manuscript is in the
hands of printers untrained to the peculiar kind of work needed, one of
two results generally follows. The book is inaccurate in matter and
slovenly in appearance, or we may have to insist that much of the work
be done over. A printer often trains himself at our expense, his bill
piling up far above his estimate, while the book comes forth at last
with an unmistakably amateurish touch everywhere apparent.
But it is not sufficient to choose a printer accustomed to genealogies.
We know of some who have done this kind of work for many years, yet
scarcely ever have done it well. Their books are many, but in wretched
taste, some of the volumes being a disgrace to the book-maker’s art.
Genealogy is worthy of better things!
Choose a printer and publisher who has taste and enthusiasm, who is
unwilling to resort to cheap material, ordinary type, and careless labor
for the sake of a wider margin of profit on his contract. It is not
difficult to select the right man. Examine samples of his book-work, and
see if _all_ are attractive, the lowest-priced as well as the expensive
editions. If he is the right man, a touch of taste and excellence will
appear in all his work.
Ascertain, if possible, the character of proof-reading you will receive.
The author, of course, will read his own proofs, but even if he is an
experienced writer, and has carried several books through the press, he
will be saved many a mistake by good proof-reading. It is a peculiar
fact that a mistake which our own eye has once passed over in the
manuscript is likely to escape our notice many times. But the fresh eye
of an expert proof-reader, versed in genealogical work, will detect many
of these mistakes, and we will find ourselves deeply indebted to his
habit of questioning doubtful points for our reconsideration.
If the reader is not himself an expert genealogist, or is printing his
first work, the services of the right kind of proof-reader are still
more indispensable. But, in fact, all writers are largely dependent upon
the printer and proof-reader for the systematic carrying out of a
correct style of punctuation, capitalization and spelling. How
satisfying is the book which receives expert attention in all these
Finally, choose a printer and publisher who is a book-making genius. The
author is dependent upon the printer for the best suggestions for style
of book within the limits of cost decided upon. There are masters of the
art of making books who, having learned the author’s mind as to price,
have an ability almost amounting to genius for suggesting the perfect
thing within the limit named. They have the character of the work in
mind, and they suggest an ideal combination of type, size of page,
illustrations, paper, margins and style of cover. Such book-makers are
readily recognized by the books they turn out. The author cannot do
better than to follow their suggestions.
In a word, let your genealogy appear in the most attractive dress which
you feel you can afford, and you ought to feel that you can _not_
afford anything which is unscholarly or unsightly. Do you want a book
which will give you pleasure to the end of time, or one which you cannot
hand to a friend without an apology? We repeat again the maxim, that the
stage of printing is no place for injudicious economy!
Have we any “practical help” to offer in this chapter? Yes, dear reader,
if you desire the kind of printer’s service herein described, it is
offered to you by the publishers of this little book. Let the reader
satisfy himself as to the quality of workmanship by examining the books
which bear the stamp of The Grafton Press. If these do not tell the
story, nothing can. This is the true test in every case.
We may add, however, that the Genealogical Department established in
connection with The Grafton Press was organized expressly to bring
together the expert co-operation necessary in order to lift every
feature of genealogical work to a higher standard of excellence than now
generally prevails. The supervision of this department extends to all
the genealogical printing done by The Grafton Press.
In submitting manuscripts in order to obtain estimates of cost of
printing, a general idea of the style expected should be given. For
example, let it be known which of the following three kinds of book is
First, the elaborate volume, made for those for whom the item of expense
is not an important consideration. This book is sumptuous, “a thing of
beauty and a joy forever.” It is printed on fine hand-made paper, with a
handsome morocco binding, and illustrations by the very best processes.
Second, the low-priced book, very plain and strictly businesslike. It is
as useful as the first, but the cost is kept down to the minimum. Yet,
although plain, it is good, and in good taste.
Third, the book which has a place between the other two. Serviceable and
of moderate cost, it is made very attractive and will give solid
satisfaction during the years to come. This is the book chosen in the
great majority of cases.
All-important are the principles laid down in this chapter. Let the
reader regard his genealogical work as an offspring to whom he owes all
the care of a fond parent. It is a question of proper clothes for the
All this having been decided on, another duty confronts the author while
his work is in process of transformation from a manuscript to a book. He
not only has proofs to read, but also an index to make, or to have made
for him. We say nothing of an index of general subjects and places; but
an index of names is indispensable in order to make the contents of a
genealogical work accessible. If the work is a “clan” genealogy, two
indexes are called for, one devoted to persons bearing the common
surname, the other devoted to those of other surnames.
For example, in “The Smith Family” we would have one index, in which all
the Smiths are arranged alphabetically according to their baptismal
names. The generation to which each individual belonged should be shown
by a small Arabic figure after his baptismal name. The other index
includes all the other persons mentioned in the book, with an
alphabetical arrangement of the different surnames. The husbands and
children of Smith daughters are found in this index.
The index can be begun as soon as the page-proofs are in hand. Each
name, with its page number, is generally written on a separate slip of
paper, all the names under one letter being kept together. When all are
written, the names under “A” can be rearranged like a card catalog,
according to the alphabetical order of the second, third and fourth
letters in each name, and when in proper order may be pasted upon sheets
for the printer. So we continue through all the letters of the alphabet.