Books: Essential genealogy resources

Books: Essential genealogy resources

There are many good genealogy books. Some are basic beginner guides, while others are specific to a certain ethnicity or geographic location. Some authors detail an exciting and emotional personal journey.

Determining the usefulness of each resource is personal for each researcher and depends on each unique research project.

Note that some books are classics and – although published a decade or more ago – are still relevant. To find the books suggested below, do an Internet search for the title. New books are published frequently, so keep searching! This suggestion list contains is far from complete. Many genealogy sites offer lists of good books as well.

Some basic books for beginners: How to Do Everything With Your Genealogy, Unpuzzling Your Past – The Best-Selling Basic Guide to Genealogy, The Genealogy Sourcebook, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Genealogy and The Everything Online Genealogy Book.

Elizabeth Shown Mills' classic work, "Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian"

Elizabeth Shown Mills' classic work, "Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian"

More advanced: Evidence! Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian, Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians, Organizing Your Family History Search, A to ZAX: A Comprehensive Dictionary for Genealogists & Historians, Long Distance Genealogy: Researching Your Family History from Home, Family Tree Problem Solver, The Handybook for Genealogists, Ancestral Trails: Complete Guide to British Genealogy & Family History, In Search of Your European Roots, and They Came in Ships.

Are you researching a specific ethnicity or location?

Hispanic research: Finding Your Hispanic Roots, Genealogical Research in Latin America and the Hispanic United States, Latin American Census Records, Finding Your Mexican Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide, and Hispanic Surnames and Family History.

UK research: A Dictionary of English Surnames, Ancestral Trails: Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History, Who Do You Think You Are? and Who Do You Think You Are?: Discovering the Heroes and Villains in Your Family.

German research: A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your Germanic Ancestors, Finding Your German Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, A Student’s Guide to German American Genealogy, German-English Genealogical Dictionary, They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records & Ethnic Origins, Dictionary of German Names and German-American Names.

Jewish research: A list of 24 Jewish genealogy books is here.

What books have you found most useful in your own ancestral quests? Share the titles and why you find them essential in the comments below.


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  • Sharon

    April 18, 2012

    Lately I’m finding that I’m purchasing more local history books to fill in the gaps about what individual towns were like, what happened in the history of that town. This allows me to put my families in a social and historical context.

  • Paul Larsen

    April 19, 2012

    Hey Schelly
    You missed one of the best basic family history books, Crash Course in Family History, found at . And it’s current — more up-to-date than many of the other basic books you have listed which are somewhat outdated. I’ll be happy to provide you with a free review copy if you wish, just for asking.

    And we have other basic ebooks that are really good. Check them out.

    Keep up the good work.
    Warm regards,

    Paul Larsen
    author, publisher

  • Otakar

    April 20, 2012

    Sám proti proudu času (Alone against stream of ages) for Czech genealogists.