'Tracing Your Canal Ancestors was not only a great historical read, but the information and references for tracing your canal ancestors can be applied to other research, making it a great research reference book. It will certainly help my research for my own ideas!' Mr Andrew Bell, Shetland.
'An excellent practical guide...' Towpath Talk, August 2012.
'This is an extremely useful, interesting and well written book which should be in the collection of anyone interested in workers on Britain's waterways... This is a commercial and social history of the people who lived and worked on the waterways... A thorough and practical guide'. Bristol and Avon FHS.
'Essential reading for those new to the subject'. Railway and Canal Historical Society.
'A practical guide that aims to help ancestors who worked on the canals, or for a canal company, to explore these roots... There is a wealth of rich information about archives, further reading, websites and relevant societies'. Your Family Tree, April 2012.
‘This book is an excellent guide for those who have traced their family back to someone who worked on the boats or for canal companies. The first half is a resumé of canal history, but from the rather different perspective of the individuals involved with them: in their construction, maintenance and operation. It offers the human history of canals… It explains not only how people might have been associated with canals, but also gives ideas for sources of where information about them might be held. Even for those not involved with genealogy, it offers a different approach to canal history…
There is a short general chapter on conventional genealogical research, but it is the specific waterway sources that will be valuable… Even the seasoned canal historian will learn from the extensive catalogue of regional archive holdings… Interspersed with the practical information is a series of case studies… Although obviously of direct interest to genealogists, this is also informative reading for the more general canal historian’. Hugh Potter, Waterways World, February 2012.
‘… A clear, atmospheric history of canals and the people who built and worked them… Tracing Your Canal Ancestors is both an inspiring read and a good starting point for your investigation into your canal-faring forebears.’ BBC Who Do You Think You Are?, January 2012.
‘Social historian Sue Wilkes’ new book, Tracing Your Canal Ancestors, is an authoritative guide for those with connections to Britain’s waterways. A mixture of socio-industrial history with clear advice on how to find out more about ancestors who played a part in British canal history, Sue Wilkes’ book will be an invaluable addition to many family historians’ bookshelves’. Your Family History, Dec 2011.
‘Canal living as it was in the late 19th century is dissected here in great detail, with regular case studies, illustrations and … colourful anecdotes… Wilkes provides an in-depth practical guide to researching your own boatmen ancestors, with vast amounts of information on archives, websites and societies that could help further your genealogical research. This guide is not just for those with boatmen in their trees – it also provides often overlooked information on people who relied on the canal trade for a living, such as lock-keepers, toll collectors and canal company clerks.
The book is an excellent manual for family historians, and comes with lots of ideas about where to find further details about the personal lives of those that worked the waterways’. Family History Monthly, December 2011.
'The book is well written in a lively style; the information is comprehensive and more than enough to give a researcher a good start in their quest for a canal ancestor...The book is in two broadly equal parts. The first 100 pages are a description of the canal network, its history and development, and the lives of the people who lived and worked afloat. The second half is a series of appendices, designed to guide the researcher through the tracing process. The author addresses the basic nuts-and-bolts of family history – general registration, parish registers and censuses, underlining the particular difficulties census enumerators may have had with – literally – a floating population...The book is well indexed and has a comprehensive bibliography. Sources are cited.
The book is well illustrated with photographs, contemporary drawings, maps and copies of relevant documents that the researcher may encounter. The illustrations are a significant strength of the book. The author is an enthusiast without being an anorak; I enjoyed this book and found myself wishing I had canal ancestors, so that I could delve deeper into their long-gone world'. Federation of Family History Societies, December 2011.
‘Fresh on the heels of Sue Wilkes’s recent The Children History Forgot comes an equally superb offering on a completely different theme – the canal heritage of the British Isles. From the first truly artificial waterway in Ireland (the Newry Canal) to the massive network subsequently carved out in Britain, the author details not only the construction of the network, but the careers that depended on it. There were the navvies who built them, the lockkeepers and canal companies who operated the infrastructure, and the companies who depended on the resource to make a living. Amongst that are the classes often overlooked – families who lived their entire lives from birth to death on the waterways.
... The book is in two main parts – the first detailing the history and the second how to uncover it using key resources and archives. Whether you do or do not have a connection to the waterways, this work is an absorbing and enlightening read’. Discover My Past Scotland, January 2012.