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Starting your personal genealogy library
14 June 2003
During the recent genealogy class in Broomfield, I was asked to name the books that I felt
were essential for a genealogist to own. It is important that at least a few select books are nearby
when researching. And while many books are available at public libraries, access is limited by the
library’s location and hours. Some people think that books are no longer necessary now that we
have the Internet. I use the Internet daily but nothing will ever take the place of a book in hand for
me. Below is a list of ten books in the order of my personal preference.
- Citation guide Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, Baltimore:
Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997, by Elizabeth Shown Mills. A source book of citation
and analysis. Includes over 300 examples of commonly used sources.
- Standards guide The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Washington, DC: Board for
Certification of Genealogists, 2000. Not just for Certified Genealogists. A guide which provides
uniform standards for gathering information, evaluating evidence and putting together the results.
- American resource guide The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Salt Lake City,
Utah: Ancestry, Inc., revised edition, 1997, edited by Loretta Dennis Szucs and Sandra
Hargreaves Luebking. A guide book to American genealogical resources with chapters on
different types of records written by various authors.
- Courthouse addresses and holdings The HandyBook for Genealogists: United States of
America, Draper, Utah: Everton Publishers, 10th edition, 2002. A collection of maps, addresses
and record information organized by state, then county. Also includes brief chapters on some
- Genealogical dictionary Explains words used in records frequently used by genealogists
(select one of these).
- What Did They Mean By That? A Dictionary of Historical Terms for Genealogists,
Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, revised edition,1998, by Paul Drake, J.D.
- A TO ZAX: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historian, Alexandria,
Virginia: Hearthside Press, 3rd edition,1995, by Barbara J. Evans.
- Federal Records Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives, Washington, DC:
National Archives and Records Administration, 3rd edition, 2001. A guide which describes the
record holdings of the National Archives and provides some research strategies for these records.
- Census Records Your Guide to the Federal Census for genealogists, researchers, and family
historians, Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 2002 by Kathleen W. Hinckley. A “how to”guide
for census research with research strategies included.
- Road Atlas Any road atlas as long as it has the counties clearly defined.
- State or county guide One guide for the state or county where your ancestors lived. For
example North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History by Helen Leary or A Guide to
Genealogical Resources in Cincinnati & Hamilton County, Ohio compiled by Connie Terheiden
and Kenny Burck.
These books will give a solid foundation to your personal genealogy library. I suggest that
you buy one or two books to start. After that, buy one book at a time and put them on your
birthday and Christmas wish list. Later, you will want to add special focus books on specific
records, ethnic groups, and geographic areas that you are researching.
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