Tracing Your Prison Ancestors written by Stephen Wade and published by Pen and Sword Books – £14.99 – Softcover – Pages 176

This excellent little book looks at tracing your family history through the prison system, I would have thought this would be hard as people are often reticent to talk about relatives who have been in trouble with the law. I also thought prisons would be good for keeping records because they would need to register all details of people they were having to detain. But it seems quite the opposite in that until the mid-1800’s records don’t really exist much and record keeping since has been a bit patchy. But Stephen Wade is a specialist criminal historian, so who better to right very accurate and detailed book to help others out.

The book is split into chapters and clearly sets out to give you an excellent overall plan of each stage that you need to go through. We have chapters on Prison History, Staff and Regime, Records, Transportation, Lunatics and offences. There is also a great glossary at the back which does explain a lot of things. Whilst I can’t say how helpful the book is, as I don’t have any family in prison, it does seem like an excellent and reliable book. You can tell this by the detail, layout and instruction, it comes across as a very easy guide. I enjoyed the fact there were case studies in each chapter to help you realise any problem you would come up against. As usual with these books there is more than adequate pictures, photos and diagrams to help you out. This book is another fantastic resource and really does add to the high level produced in this series by Pen and Sword Books.