Wednesday, September 10, 2008

10 essential books in my genealogy library

My fellow Genea-Bloggers on Facebook® invited Ol' Myrt here to create a blog entry that lists the top ten essential books in my genealogy library. Since most of my personal research is in the US and now England my list reflects this emphasis.

1. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy 3rd edition edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra
Hargreaves Luebking. Full of descriptions of US record types and facsimile examples, this is THE book to curl up with with you know you've got to get out of research rut and want to look at alternative documents for evidence of that elusive ancestor. Preview a few pages at and consider purchasing it there since it is
usually less expensive than from the publisher 20
06. ISBN 1593312776. 992 pages. $49.

2. The Handybook for Genealogists 11th Edition edited by Holly Hansen. This book needs no online preview, which is good because I couldn't find one. Look for an ancestor's county of residence first by state. Then note the date the county was established, the parent county, the date records began to be kept and the contact info. Also note the listing of archives, libraries, essential reference works, societies, etc. for each state. $50, or $60 for book and CD.

Preview this book3. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for Family Historians by Elizabeth Shown Mills is the "little book" of source citation models that includes easy-to-use citation examples in table format. Preview at Google Books before purchasing this from
Genealogical Publishing Company. 1997. ISBN 0806315431, 9780806315430. 127 pages. $11.50.

4. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills. This "big book" of source citation models was named "Best Reference 2007" by the Library Journal, and won the National Genealogical Society's 2008 Award of Excellence. View a few pages online at Genealogical Publishing Company's website. 2007, reprinted 2008. ISBN: 9780806317816. 885 pages. $49.95.

5. Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case by Christine Rose. A few years ago professional genealogists gave up the term "preponderance of evidence" confirming the belief that there is a higher standard for proof than is loosely defined as required for a court of law. Ol' Myrt here steps back from her research about four times a year, and rereads this book to see how my work measures up.

6. Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry. Deciphering old handwriting is a common challenge more readily overcome with examples and advice found in this book. I keep it on the right side of my computer monitor in case a newly digitized online document stumps me. Not available as a preview, though you can search through a few pages at before you purchase this from Genealogical Publishing Company ISBN 080630846X. 289 pages.

Preview this book
7. Bibliography of American County Histories compiled by P. William Filby. Perhaps the quickestPreview this book way to become aware of your ancestor's town and county is to read the old county history books. Typically created between 1880 and 1920, the relics Filby lists are likely to discuss the location of the first grist mill, the establishment of each church, information about local government leaders, and peculiarities about settlement patterns. Preview at Google Books before purchasing this from Genealogical Publishing Company. 1985. ISBN 0806311266, 9780806311265. 449 pages.

8. The Hidden Half of the Family: A sourcebook for women's genealogy by Christina K. Schaefer. This book will go a long way toward helping US researchers understand the laws that affected their female ancestors, but it isn't about women's liberation. Finding extant documents that provide either direct or indirect evidence of a woman's maiden name is the challenge the author helps readers tackle. Preview at Google Books before purchasing this from
Genealogical Publishing Company. 2001. ISBN 0806315822, 9780806315829. 298 pages. $8.95

9. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for researchers, writers, editors, lecturers and librarians edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Affectionately referred to as ProGen, this book was published in 2001 but remains an outstanding reference work including models for abstracting and transcribing, guides for appropriate documentation, tips for mastering visual aids and information about executing contracts for speaking and magazine writing assignments. Preview ProGen at Google Books before purchasing this from 2001, reprinted 2007. ISBN 9780806316482. 654 pages. $32.95.

Ancestral Trails. The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History10. Ancestral Trails. The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History Second Edition by Mark D. Herber. If you are like Ol' Myrt here, and are just venturing out into the world of British records research, why not search the full text at Google Books before deciding to make a purchase? 2006. Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN: 9780806317717. 896 pages. $34.95

Plus One:

The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers by Cecil R.Humphery- Smith. Phillimore & Co. Ltd. This is to England what Everton's Handybook is to the US. This basic reference work not only has maps of the pre-1832 parochial boundaries, but lists each known parish, when it was founded, when records began to be kept, and location of same. Also noted is whether the records are extracted to the IGI, indexed in Boyd's Marriage or Pallot's Marriage, etc. 1984. ISBN 0850333989. 200 pages. About $79.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
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© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved. This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.