Probing the past

Probing the past: a toolbox for Baptist historical research

Susan J Mills
Baptist Historical Society, 2009, £9.50, 199p, Pbk,
ISBN: 9780903166393

Available from:
Rev. Dr. Roger Heyden, 15 Fenshurst Gardens, Long Ashton, Bristol, BS18 9AU.

Even before I was asked to review this book, I was avidly recommending it to every researcher who came through the doors of Bristol Baptist College library. The author, LCF subscriber, Sue Mills, is an expert in Baptist historical research, having spent twenty-two years as Librarian of the Angus library, Regent’s Park College, Oxford advising enquirers of all levels from schoolchildren, through undergraduate and postgraduate students to eminent historians from all over the world. Not forgetting hoards of family history enthusiasts and church members writing local church histories.

  • ‘Toolbox’is an apt subtitle, but I would upgrade it to ‘treasure chest’ as its one hundred and ninety nine pages contain a wealth of information on how to find and use primary and secondary sources relating to Baptist and dissenting history.
  • The World Wide Web has burgeoned since Sue’s earlier 1992 publication, Sources for the Study of Baptist History, so in addition to printed sources, many useful internet resources; search engines, gateways and web sites are recommended.
  • An appendix helps the reader through a sample research strategy.

The book’s affordable price makes the information accessible to anyone with an interest in Baptist and dissenting history, and I, as a librarian, feel better equipped to deal with the constant stream of historical enquiries which come my way every week with such a reference tool at my disposal.

Contributed by Shirley A. Shire, BSc, DipLib, MCLIP, who works as Librarian of the Bristol Baptist College.