This week, the ProGen study group I am mentoring asked me to share my top ten genealogy books. Below is a snapshot and a breakdown of my answer.
*Keep in mind, these are my top ten GENERAL genealogy books, not my top ten books for genealogy professionals, which would be a different list (for another day!).
In order of importance:
- The Source, by Lou Szucs: my genealogy professors assigned this as required reading, starting at my first genealogy courses, and it was a staple textbook in several genealogy courses throughout my time as a genealogy undergrad. I found it to be an *extremely* helpful resource, and I consider it a must-read for anybody who wants to learn genealogy.
- Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy by Christine Rose and Kay Ingalls: don’t be put off by the goofy title; this book is more comprehensive and informative than some books that teach advanced genealogy research techniques, plus it refers to/quotes all the foundational genealogy works any serious researcher should own, which will help them to build their library as they go, which many those other guides don’t do. The authors are also credentialed and renowned authorities on the subject.
- The Family Tree Problem Solver by Marsha Hoffman Rising. I already touted my reliance on this text in a previous post; it is one of the secrets to my pushing through those “brick walls” when I get stuck on a research project, because Rising presents every possible solution in this book. I can’t recommend it enough.
- Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills: this book is required reading by the Board for Certification of Genealogists–your citations must be formatted in accordance with the style in this book or you cannot become board-certified, nor will your work be in accordance with the Genealogy Standards (manual) which they also require. (Note: ICAPGen does accept other citation formats, so Accredited Genealogist® applicants can use other citation styles–for example applicants from other countries who are accustomed to styles used in their homeland are welcome to keep using them.)
- Courthouse Research for Family Historians by Christine Rose, recommended because Rose is a consummate scholar who teaches about the record types that hobbyists often overlook, and because anybody wanting to undertake serious genealogy needs to leave their desk and hit the courthouses. Hobbyists are desk jockeys, but serious genealogists know how to go out and find offline records.
- Black’s Law Dictionary is a must-own because researchers can’t adequately understand the records they find in the courthouses mentioned above ^ unless they have a reference guide to the laws behind those records. Black’s Law is that reference work. Be sure to get the older editions, because newer editions won’t cover the laws from your ancestors’ time periods. I found it cheapest to get multiple editions on CD-ROM.
- Elements of Genealogical Analysis by Robert Charles Anderson. The “genealogical proof standard” (GPS) for proving one’s family history is a big buzzword in genealogy these days, but the rules of the GPS don’t include any standards/methods for sequencing/connecting the dots when identifying ancestors, nor for presenting findings. This book does–it maps out how researchers can logically prove ancestors’ identities via linkages and other helpful strategies.
- The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val Greenwood. This work isn’t as crucial or as comprehensive as The Source (above), but Greenwood imparts a lot of valuable knowledge about the census and other record-types, making this book a staple for American researchers.
- The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. DNA testing is an integral part of genealogy research today, and this book is my preferred guide to learning the ropes.
- Mastering Genealogical Proof, by Thomas Jones. This book teaches readers how to master the Genealogical Proof Standard, which I mentioned with book #7.
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