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From:
Subject: Re: RIP Don STEEL
Date: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 09:50:50 -0700 (PDT)
References: <47fd135f$0$32056$da0feed9@news.zen.co.uk>


Over the last two decades, I got to know Don Steel quite well. In
recent years his stands at family history fairs became quite a feature
- sometimes he had so many tables that he took over a whole room! But
it is not for his bookselling that he will be remembered longest, but
for the books he wrote. In my opinion, his 'Discovering family
history', published by the BBC in 1980, is still one of the best
introductory text books for family historians, despite the fact that
it was written before the internet, and many of its references,
addresses, etc are outdated. And his introductory volume of the
National index of parish registers is still the standard work in its
field, and will continue to be read in a century or two, if the world
survives that long. I for one was disappointed that Don gave up
writing books and concentrated on bookselling and lecturing instead. A
few years ago I tried to persuade him to take up his pen again. But he
told me that he had to put so much effort into writing a book, and
making sure that everything was correct, that he could not do it again
- the standards he set himself as an author was just too high for him
to jump over it.

The family history world has lost one of its most experienced
genealogists, and family history fairs will never be the same again. I
have lost a friend who I could drop in on for a cup of tea on my way
home down the M5. But the academic standards Don set in his books
continue to provide the writers of genealogical texts and handbooks
with a major challenge. Will we measure up?

Stuart A. Raymond


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