Introduction to Red Book
This entry was originally written by Alice Eichholz, Ph.D., CG for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
Family history research is easier than it has ever been. Today, with the increased awareness of the necessity for preserving local records and with the burgeoning use of the Internet and computer technology for organizing and indexing records, we can discover a great deal regarding the specifics of our family's past in the United States'no matter what the locality.
Designed to help you recover the multigenerational facts of your ancestry, this book is an expansive guide to the most useful resources in each of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia. Conducting research at a distance from the places one's ancestors lived can be quite a challenge for any genealogist, and there still is no substitute for on-site research because not everything is, or probably ever will be, on the Internet, microfilm, in print, or available through interlibrary loan. But the information in this book will assist the research process by describing some original, printed, microfilmed, and online sources for every state and the District of Columbia.
The book is arranged alphabetically by state. Within this chapter and each state's chapter, topics are arranged consistently to suggest one methodological strategy for research. While research in different locations may require different strategies, the format of this book was designed to provide a consistent and detailed guide within limited space for each state. Background Sources in each state's chapter suggests other excellent guides to help you modify your research strategy in a specific state.
Every state's chapter begins with a brief historical background discussion, since records used in genealogical research are best understood within their historical context. Your own genealogical research will benefit from knowing about the history, settlement patterns, and context in which the records were kept.