Your guide to genealogy-related gift ideas to add to
your own holiday wish list!
Genealogical Reference Books
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, Third 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.
- Genealogy Standards – This book documents 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 last year, this is a workbook to help genealogists understand and use the Genealogical Proof Standard as defined in Genealogy Standards (above). Also available for Kindle.
In addition to these general resources, there are some topic-specific books that I also highly recommend. They include:
- The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
- Genetic Genealogy in Practice
- Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher
- How to Use Evernote for Genealogy
- Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures
- Land & Property Research in the United States
- Reading Early American Handwriting
- The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe
- Finding Your Italian Ancestors
- Tracing Your Irish Ancestors, Fourth Edition
- Guide to Genealogical Writing
Genealogical Reference Guides
- 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 & Historical Non-Reference Books
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
- Only A Few Bones: A True Account of the Rolling Fork Tragedy & Its Aftermath (New Edition, 2015)
- Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey Into a Family Secret
- Finding Dolores: An Adoptee’s Mid-Life Search for the Beginning
- Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA
- Jefferson Tayte Genealogical Crime Mysteries by Steve Robinson:
- Suzanne Adair’s American Revolution mysteries:
- The Forensic Genealogist series by Nathan Dylan Godwin:
You can find more genealogy-related mysteries here (there are a bunch!).
Some of my favorite genealogy magazines include:
- Family Tree Magazine – A one-year subscription includes seven issues; available in print and electronic versions.
- Your Genealogy Today – Formerly 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.
- FORUM – This is a publication of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and includes articles and columns of interest to genealogists as well as society management. Anyone can subscribe to this magazine. Did I mention that I am the managing editor for FORUM?
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.
Software & Apps
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:
- Personal Historian
- Family Atlas
- Legacy Charting Companion
- Evidentia (Purchase Evidentia 2 today and it will include a free upgrade to Evidentia 3 when it becomes available.)
Want your family tree database on your mobile device? Here are a few apps you might want to try out:
- Families (android, works with your Legacy Family Tree database file)
- GEDFamilies (android, works with any GEDCOM file)
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.
- 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 – 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.
- Findmypast – Major focus is on the UK and Ireland, however they are adding US record collections.
- MyHeritage – Good set of records “including the world’s largest collection of newspapers.”
I love office supplies! I’m always finding new goodies that I find helpful for research. Here are a few that I really like to use.
Tools & Gadgets
There are many tools out there that come in handy for the genealogist. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Kindle Fire – Now known as Fire tablets, there are many options to suit anyone’s need. As far as genealogy is concerned, here’s my story. I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas five 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 and a charger.
- Brother DS-600 Mobile Scanner – I’ve had this scanner for about seven years now and I love it. The great thing about this mobile 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.
- Luxor L340 Home Office Double Sided Magnetic White Board (48” x 36”) – Bought this earlier this year and LOVE it (read my post about it)! Wish I had room for two more!
- Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-in-1 Film to Digital Converter – This product has been on my own wish list for years. It has a great rating and is exactly what I need to convert all of the film, slides, and negatives I have in my possession. Perhaps Santa will get it for me this year…
DNA Testing Kits
There are three major players in the arena for genealogical autosomal DNA testing.
- Family Tree DNA (BIG holiday sale going on; also does testing for Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA)
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.
- American Genealogical Studies – The development of this series is still in progress (the first two course are currently available) and is replacing the NGS Home Study Course. 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 customizable stones. Here are some of my favorites:
- Diamond Tree of Life Pendant in Sterling Silver (Target)
- Heart Tree Pendant Necklace (Etsy)
- Southern Gates Sterling Silver Pendant – Oak Tree Oval (Charleston Collections Gifts)
- Southern Gates Sterling Silver Earrings – Oak Tree (Charleston Collections Gifts)
- Southern Gates Sterling Silver Pendant – Antique Oval Oak (Charleston Collections Gifts)
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.