In 1986, when I first began doing family history research, I was at a loss as to where to begin finding information about my father's paternal ancestors, our Dow family line.
My first cousin, Edgar Lawrence Dow III (Ted) [RN 19], mentioned to me early on that a friend of his had told him about a book he had come across about the Dow family and wondered if Ted had ever seen it or if his family was in it. Ted had found a copy of the book in the University of California Library in Berkeley CA. He told me that he spent over an hour looking through the book and its index and was unable to find anything or anyone mentioned in it that he thought was related to our family.
I first found a copy of this book, called The Book of Dow, at the Sutro Library in San Francisco CA, and did the same thing Ted had done. I also was unable to find anything or anyone that I thought was related to our family. I was very impressed with the book, however. Its size, organization, numbering system, extensive index and the vast number of people and family groups it contained gave me the impression it must somewhere contain someone related to our family. I came away with the feeling that by spending a great deal more time turning its pages and reading every entry, eventually a connection to our family might be found.
In November 1988, while I was in London on a business trip, I happened into a used book store in Knightsbridge and was browsing through their genealogy book section. The owner struck up a conversation with me, asked my name and surprised me by announcing that he had an original copy of the The Book of Dow in nice condition and asked if I would be interested in it. I jumped at the chance to acquire it for the equivalent of $80 and lugged the weighty volume home across the Atlantic in my luggage.
In the subsequent year, I spent hours thumbing through this huge volume hoping to find something that looked familiar. After many hours I began to understand more about how the book was organized and to realize the authors frustration of having a lot of information about a lot of Dow lines that he was not able to connect to others. In some cases, he had made assumptions which were not accurate that resulted in some Dow's being shown in sections of the book to which they did not belong.
Finally after many, many hours of study, I came across the first Dow listing that I knew was part of my family. This in turn led to others and eventually to the discovery of our whole line in the book and to an understanding about how the author had identified and numbered members of our family in an incorrect way, attaching them to the wrong lines.
In the mid 1990s, I was able to buy a second original copy of this book that was in better condition and cheaper than the first. In 1998, I began noticing that reproductions of the book were available from the Higginson Book Company of Salem MA. In 2000, I discovered that the original printer (The Tuttle Co., Rutland VT) still had many new copies available in their inventory.