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Ten Genealogy Reference Books

Ten Genealogy Reference Books

The following is an annotated list of the “top ten” genealogy books every public library should have. There are many, many more but this will be a good start.

1.  The Source : A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, rev. ed. Salt Lake City, UT : Ancestry Inc., 1997. This is the the primary reference work for genealogy. Named Best Reference Book by the American Library Association.

2. The Handybook for Genealogists, 10th ed. Logan, UT : The Everton Publishers, Inc., 2002/3. This is very useful for addresses of county clerks and descriptions of the kinds of records available. It is also good for address of libraries, archives, and societies in each state, maps of the counties and migration patterns and information on how to order some foreign vital records.

3. Bringing Your Family History to Life through Social History by Katherine Scott Sturdevant (Cincinnati: Betterway, 2000). ISBN: 1558705104. May be out-of-print but available at many public libraries and genealogy collections.

4.  International Vital Records Handbook by Thomas Jay Kemp, 4th ed. Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. This book includes application forms for birth, marriage, and death certificates for the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland and thirty-one other European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. This is a "practical addition to reference collections," and "a timesaver for genealogical researchers, too," as said in a Library Journal review

5.  The Census Book : a Genealogist's Guide to Federal Census Facts, Schedules, and Indexes by William Dollarhide. Bountiful, UT : Heritage Quest, 2000. "...a must have book for anyone doing post-1790 research for American families." - Myra Vanderpool Gormley, Los Angeles Times - Syndicated Columnist.

6. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives edited by Anne Bruner Eales and Robert M. Kvasnicka, 3rd ed. Washington, D.C. : National Archives and Records Administration, 1985. This book should be read by any serious genealogist. It describes what is available in the National Archives.

7.  Land & Property Research in the United States by E. Wade Hone. Salt Lake City, UT : Ancestry Inc., 1997. This book gives a full description of land records, one of the most valuable types of records for genealogical research.

8.  A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Immigrant & Ethnic Ancestors  :  How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage, by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. Cincinnati, OH : Betterway Books, 2000. This book gives methods and sources for researching your ethnic ancestors, profiling forty-two distinct groups.

9.  How to Locate Anyone Who Is or Has Been in the Military by Richard S. Johnson. 8th ed. Spartanburg, SC : MIE Publishing, 1999. Exactly as the title says. This is an easy to use guide.

10.  The Ultimate Search Book : Worldwide Adoption and Vital Records by Lori Carangelo. Bountiful, UT : Heritage Quest, 1996. A necessary reference book for adoption research.

As I said, there are many more then ten; this one is essential:


Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997). ISBN: 0806315431. A great addition to your reference collection and essential to anyone doing historical research. Watch for a new edition.