Last year I posted some genealogy-related gift ideas to add to your own holiday wish list. I had quite a positive response, so I thought I post them again, adding a few new things to the list.
There are so many books to choose from, but these are my go-to books and I recommend them for anyone working on their genealogy.
- Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources, Third Edition – While this book is available through the Ancestry.com Wiki, I prefer the book version. I can highlight it, stick post-its all over it, write notes, and flip back and forth with ease. Although this latest edition was published in 2004, it’s still a valuable resource. It’s organized by state and goes through the various records types and repositories. Handy tables for each state show each county, along with its formation date (and if it was formed from another county), and the beginning dates for vital, land, probate, and court records. Some states, like Connecticut, do this by town instead of county.
- The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, Third Edition – Also available through the Ancestry.com Wiki, it’s another book where I prefer the hardcopy for the same reasons mentioned above. Still relevant even seven years after this edition was released, this book is organized by topic and gives a good overview of each topic. Particularly helpful for beginners who are transitioning to more advanced research.
- The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, Third Edition – This book is similar to The Source and there is some overlap in topics. However, they’re each presented differently and it’s sometimes better to have both. Each one covers a few topics the other doesn’t.
- Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researcher, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and
Librarians – NOT just for professionals, this is a wonderful resource even if you have no plans to do genealogy for a living. It covers a variety of topics from research reports to transcriptions to writing family histories, as well as information targeted at the professional such as business management and marketing.
- Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, Second Edition – The preferred standard for citing sources in the genealogy world. While it serves as a reference for endless citation scenarios, the first chapter is dedicated to evidence analysis, which should be read and reviewed often.
- The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual – This book was designed to document a set of generally-understood standards in the genealogy community. While it is the basis for those seeking certification through BCG, it is seen as a guide for quality genealogy research for everyone, from beginners to experts.
- Mastering Genealogical Proof – Released earlier this year, this is a workbook to help genealogists understand and use the Genealogical Proof Standard as defined in The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual (above).
In addition to these general resources, there are some topic-specific books that I also highly recommend. They include:
- Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures
- Land & Property Research in the United States
- Reading Early American Handwriting
- The German Research Companion, Third Edition
- Finding Your Italian Ancestors
- Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, Fourth Edition
And then there are some fun books, including fiction, worth reading. They include:
- Hey America, Your Roots Are Showing
- Shaking the Family Tree: Blue Bloods, Black Sheep, and Other Obsessions of an Accidental Genealogist
- The Journey Takers
- Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mysteries by Steve Robinson (three so far, more to come):
- Suzanne Adair’s American Revolution mysteries:
The last few years have seen the emergence of short informational guides focused on a particular topic.
- Genealogical Publishing Co. – Carries two lines of guides: Genealogy at a Glance and QuickSheet. These guides cover a variety of topics including Italian genealogy, Revolutionary War, African American genealogy, cluster research, and problem analysis.
- Legacy Family Tree – Has the Legacy QuickGuideTM series, covering many different topics from preserving family heirlooms to Canadian genealogy to land records.
- Genealogical Societies – A few state genealogical societies have put together guides of their own focusing on their particular state. These include: Insider’s Guide to Illinois Genealogy (Illinois State Genealogical Society), Insider’s Guide to Ohio Genealogy: A View of Essential Buckeye State Resources (Ohio Genealogical Society), and Insider’s Guide to California Genealogy (California Genealogical Society).
Some of my favorite genealogy magazines include:
- Family Tree Magazine – A one-year subscription includes seven issues; available in print and electronic versions.
- Family Chronicle – A one-year subscription includes six issues; available in print and electronic versions.
- Internet Genealogy – A one-year subscription includes six issues; available in print and electronic versions.
- American Spirit – A publication of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, this always has some great articles. You do NOT need to be a member of the DAR to subscribe.
- FGS FORUM – This is a publication of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and includes articles and columns relevant to genealogists as well as society management. Anyone can subscribe to this magazine.
#4 Society Memberships
There are plenty of genealogical and historical societies out there at all levels: national, regional, state, and local. Two of the more popular national/regional societies are the National Genealogical Society and the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Professional-related societies include the Association of Professional Genealogists and the American Historical Association. To find other societies, start with the listing provided at Cyndi’s List.
These are the most popular genealogy database programs:
- Legacy Family Tree (PC)
- RootsMagic (PC)
- Family Tree Maker (PC and Mac)
- Heredis (PC and Mac)
- Reunion (Mac)
In addition, there are plenty of other genealogy-related software tools that might be of interest to you:
And don’t forget about photo-editing software to help you preserve your photo collection and documents. I personally use Photoshop because I also use several other Adobe products in the Creative Suite (now Creative Cloud). I’ve heard that Photoshop Elements is a cheaper alternative to Photoshop and still provides a wide range of capabilities suitable to the needs of genealogists.
#6 Subscription Websites
- Ancestry.com – Lots of stuff! Records and indexes, variety of types covering many places. Make sure you specify if you want a US or World subscription.
- Fold3 – Formerly Footnote, their focus is on military-related records. However, they also have a big collection of non-military records including city directories, newspapers, and censuses.
- GenealogyBank – Oodles of newspapers at your fingertips. This is my personal favorite website for newspaper research. They also have a Historical Documents collection, which has some rather interesting resources.
- Find My Past – Major focus is on the UK and Ireland, however they are adding US record collections.
- Archives.com – Good set of records and indexes. Has digital images of Evangelical Lutheran Church of America records.
#7 Tools & Gadgets
There are many tools out there that come in handy for the genealogist. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Kindle Fire – I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas two years and had no idea how much I would use it for genealogy. I went an entire week at the Family History Library with only the Fire, while my laptop stayed in the hotel room. It’s also great to have my genealogy database at my fingertips for those times when I’m at a family gathering and people start asking questions…quick, easy access, and they have their answer. You can read more about how I use my Kindle Fire for genealogy here. Not into the Kindle? Consider other tablets or the iPad.
- Flip-PalTM Mobile Scanner – Scan just about anything with this nifty mobile scanner. Yes, it’s small, but their stitching software is fantastic—it puts multiple scans together to reproduce the original in a digital format. If you plan to use it a lot, I’d also recommend asking for at least two sets of four AA rechargeable batteries.
- Brother DS-600 Mobile Scanner – I’ve had this scanner for about four years now and I love it, although I don’t use it as much as the Flip-Pal. The great thing about this feed scanner is that you can scan legal pages in one scan. It’s also a great backup for when the Flip-Pal batteries are dead.
Although I don’t have one, I hear a lot of people talk about hand-held “wand” scanners as another mobile scanner option.
#8 DNA Testing Kits
There are three major players in the arena for genealogical DNA testing.
- Family Tree DNA – Does testing for Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA. If you have previously had an autosomal DNA test done by 23andMe or AncestryDNA, you can purchase the Autosomal DNA Transfer, which allows you to have your results brought into FTDNA and fish in their pond, so to speak.
- 23andMe – Only does autosomal DNA testing. This is the only company of the three listed here that also does health-related analysis based on your DNA.
- AncestryDNA – Autosomal DNA testing only.
Donations to your favorite organization or cause are gifts that keep on giving. This is a good option when you have very few tangible items on your wish list. I’ve asked family and friends to contribute to the following organizations and projects in my name. And, as a bonus, these contributions are tax-deductible for the donor.
- War of 1812 – Preserve the Pensions – This project, run by the Federation of Genealogical Societies, is raising funds to help digitize the War of 1812 pension files. The best part is that Ancestry.com is matching ALL donations, so $25 becomes $50 and digitizes about 110 pages.
- Illinois State Genealogical Society – Yes, this one’s personal as it is my home society. ISGS is doing wonderful things not only for it’s members, but for the genealogy community as a whole. But in order for them to keep providing these services, they need funding, and a lot of that comes from contributions. While I’d love for you to add ISGS to your own holiday wish list, I know you have your own organizations that you want to support, so be sure to add them to your list!
There a several educational opportunities available to us. Some are free, others, not so much. So why not add one of these opportunities to your list?
- National Institute for Genealogical Studies – Tons of courses to choose from. You can even earn certificates in a variety of areas, including American Records and Professions Development.
- National Genealogical Society Home Study Course – Work at your own pace, this course is available on CD and covers a wide range of topics. NGS also offers PDF Courses and Online Courses on specific topics.
- Family Tree University – Has a variety of courses available in different formats: Online Courses, Independent Study Courses, and Webinars. FTU also holds virtual conferences throughout the year.
I love jewelry and family history, so why not combine them? There are plenty of jewelry items out there, many of them customizable to include the birthstones of children. But since I don’t have any children, I tend to gravitate to the one’s without the stones (although I suppose I could just pick my favorite stone so I have one with some bling). Here are some of my favorites:
- Round Open Design Textured Family Tree of Life Pendant (Amazon)
- Round Family Tree of Life Pendant in Sterling Silver (Amazon)
- Heart Tree Pendant Necklace (Etsy)
- Tree Necklace (Etsy)
- Southern Gates Sterling Silver Pendant – Oak Tree Oval (Charleston Collections Gifts)
- Southern Gates Sterling Silver Earrings – Oak Tree Oval (Charleston Collections Gifts)
#12 Novelty Items
Anything with a genealogy touch always makes a great gift: T-shirts, mouse pads, notebooks, mugs, etc. These are the two places I go when I want to give myself a genealogy-related gift:
What about you? Do you have any suggestions? What are you asking for this holiday season? Leave a comment and let me know.