Scam genealogical book

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The popularity of genealogy, encouraged by the increasing use of the Internet is encouraging a number of people to mass-market what authorities regard as "scam genealogical books" which are sometimes promoted by affiliated websites. They tend to contain a general introduction, a section about the origin of surnames in general, a section about heraldry, a couple of blank charts for the purchaser to copy and complete once he has done his own research, a few recipes and (sometimes) a list of names, addresses and telephone numbers culled from the publicly available telephone directories.[1]

The books are not unique to a particular surname, are not published annually and contain no pictures of the buyer's family members. In a recent case, Jeffery Scism, a San Bernardino genealogist, said the fines for such practises are puny when compared with the hundreds of thousands of dollars he believes such vendors rake in.[2]

Those who have sold such books so far include:

  • Burke's Peerage World Book of [Surname]s - not to be confused with Burke's Peerage
  • Halberts Family Heritage - World Book of [Surname]s
  • William Pince Publishers - SGN Genealogical Foundation
  • Maxwell MacMaster[3]
  • The [Surname] Name in History.


  1. ^ Dick Eastman (14 March 2001). "Genealogy Scams". Archived from the original on 24 February 2004. Retrieved 5 November 2022.
  2. ^ Album seller settles case : More Business : The Rocky Mountain News Archived January 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ MorphCorp LLC of Denver State settles suit