The Genealogist at Work – Old Style

During my regular check for new genealogy books in the Ottawa Public Library collection, one title stood out : “The Maker of Pedigrees: Jakob Wilhelm Imhoff and the Meanings of Genealogy in Early Modern Europe” by Markus Friedrich. This book, published by John Hopkins University Press last year, offers a unique perspective on the subject.

“The Maker of Pedigrees” delves into the role of genealogy in the cultural, social, and political history of Europe around 1700. It particularly focuses on the life and works of Nuremberg master genealogist Jakob Wilhelm Imhof, shedding light on how changes in Europe’s knowledge culture influenced genealogy and how the evolving nature of the genealogical imaginary shaped early modern Europeans’ perception of society, politics, and scholarship. 

I found the book hard going. It’s academic,  a translation, full of two-dollar words like bricolage, histographical, annalistic.

I persevered through chapter 5 “The Genealogist at Work.” His major effort was keeping up with current developments — births, marriages and deaths. This was done through collecting published materials, including newspapers, “diplomatic” documents circulated to keep peers aware of changes in the powerful, correspondance and oral communication.

His research was founded on previously published material, which he did his best to verify. To those he physically added information written on scarps of papers and clippings, using sissors and paste. He also wrote in corrections and additions — the bricolage. They were the working basis for his published works.

There are two circulating copies in the OPL collection. None were in the  public library collections in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal or Halifax. Toronto has one copy in its reference collection.

I can only recommend it to those who have an interest in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

2 Replies to “The Genealogist at Work – Old Style”

  1. Interesting that OPL has a copy and, other than TPL, no other major library has it..either a patron requested it or their acquisitions librarian has an interest in genealogy…

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