List of Useful Resources for Beginners

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Basics of Family History Research

This article is part of a series.
Overview of Family History Research
Home Sources
Family History Collaboration
Basics of Family History and Technology
Basics of DNA
Basic Record-keeping
Evaluation and Goal Setting
Family History in Time and Place
Family History Etiquette, Ethics, Legalities
List of Useful Resources for Beginners

This article originally appeared in "The Foundations of Family History Research" by Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, and Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

Conducting Basic Research and Record Keeping

American Genealogy: A Basic Course. National Genealogical Society. Online at An online study course for various skill levels.

Booth, Wayne C., Joseph M. Williams, Gregory G. Colomb. The Craft of Research. 2nd ed. Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Organize Your Family History Research: Efficient and Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 1999.

Clifford, Karen. The Complete Beginner's Guide to Genealogy, the Internet, and Your Genealogy Software Program. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2002.

Crume, Rick. Plugging into Your Past. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2004.

Curran, Joan Ferris, Madilyn Coen Crane, John H. Wray. Numbering Your Genealogy: Basic System, Complex Families, and International Kin (Special Publications of the National Genealogical Society No. 64). Arlington, Va.: National Genealogical Society, 1999.

Dollarhide, William. Managing a Genealogical Project. Updated ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001.

Fleming, Ann Carter. The Organized Family Historian: How to File, Manage, and Protect Your Genealogical Research and Heirlooms. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2004.

Greenwood, Val D. Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, 3rd ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.

McClure, Rhonda R. The Genealogist's Computer Companion. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2001.

---. Digitizing Your Family History. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2004.

Morgan, George. How to Do Everything with Your Genealogy. New York: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media, 2004. Family History. CD-ROM (Win). Provo, Utah:, 2004. 1-2-3 Family Tree: The Fastest Way to Create and Grow Your Family Tree. Provo, Utah:, 2003.

Porter, Pamela Boyer, and Amy Johnson Crow. Online Roots. How to Discover Your Family's History and Heritage with the Power of the Internet. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2003.

Prescott, Laura G. "The Perspective of Timelines." Ancestry Magazine 22, no. 2 (March/April 2004).

Renick, Barbara. Genealogy 101: How to Trace Your Family's History and Heritage. Rutledge Hill Press, 2003.

Wright, Raymond S., III. The Genealogist's Handbook: Modern Methods for Researching Family History. Chicago: American Library Association, 1995.

Interviewing and Oral History

American Association for State and Local History. A Guide to Oral History Interviews. Technical Leaflet #210. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 2000.

Huberman, Rob, and Laura Huberman. How to Create a Video Family History: The Complete Guide to Interviewing and Taping Your Families Stories & Memories. Margate, N.J.: ConteQ Communications, 2003.

Kroeber, Karl, ed. Native American Storytelling: A Reader of Myths & Legends. Ames, Iowa: Blackwell Publishers, 2004.

Nelson, Hasker. Listening for Our Past: A Lay Guide to African-American Oral History Interviewing. United States: Heritage Research Creations, 2000.

Neubauer, Joan R. From Memories to Manuscript: The Five-Step Method of Writing Your Life Story. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1994.

Neuenschwander, John A. Oral History and the Law. 3rd ed., rev. and enlarged. Denton, Tex.: Oral History Association, 2002.

Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Sommer, Barbara W., and Mary Kay Quinlan. The Oral History Manual (American Association for State and Local History Book Series). Walnut Creek, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 2003.

Sturm, Duane, and Pat Sturm. Video Family History. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1989.

Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History. 3rd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Locating and Caring for Home Sources

American Association of State and Local History. Caring for Family Treasures: Basic How-to from Storage to Donation. Technical Leaflet #225. Nashville: American Association of State and Local History: 2004.

American Diaries: An Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals. 2 vols. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1983, 1987.

Hinding, Andrea. Women's History Sources: A Guide to Archives and Manuscripts Collections in the United States. New York: R. R. Bowker, 1979.

Lester, Memory Aldridge. Old Southern Bible Records: Transcriptions of Births, Deaths and Marriages from Family Bibles, Chiefly of the 18th and 19th Centuries. Reprint, 1990; Baltimore: Clearfield Co., 2002.

Long, Jane S., and Richard W. Long. Caring for Your Family Treasures. New York: H. N. Abrams, 2000.

McClure, Rhonda R. Digitizing Your Family History: Easy Methods for Preserving Your Heirloom Documents, Photos, Home Movies, and More in a Digital Format. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2004.

Pitman, Ann Mitchell. Inside the Jewelry Box: A Collectors Guide to Costume Jewelry, Identification, and Values. Paducah, Ky.: Collector Books, 2004.

Sagraves, Barbara. A Preservation Guide: Saving the Past and the Present for the Future. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1995.

Smolenyak, Megan. "Website helps return 'š'orphan' artifacts." Online at

Taylor, Maureen A. Preserving Your Family Photographs. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2001.

Weinstein, Robert A., and Larry Booth. Collection, Use, and Care of Historical Photographs. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1989.

Dating Home Sources

Corson, Richard. Fashions in Hair, the First 5000 Years. 2nd ed. London: Peter Owen Publishers, 2001.

DeLorme, Maureen. Mourning Art & Jewelry. Altglen, Pa.: Schiffer Publishing, 2004.

Edmunds, Mary Jaene. Samplers and Samplermakers: An American Schoolgirl Art 1700-1850. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 1991.

Friedman, Daniel. The Birth and Development of American Postcards: A History, Catalog, and Price Guide to U.S. Pioneer Postcards. Classic Postcards, 2003.

Frisch-Ripley, Karen. Unlocking the Secrets in Old Photographs. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992.

Gagel, Diane Vanskiver. Ohio Photographers, 1839-1900. Nevada City, Calif.: Carl Mautz Publishing, 1998.

Massengill, Stephen E. Photographers in North Carolina: The First Century 1842-1941. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 2004.

Nickell, Joe. Camera Clues: A Handbook for Photographic Investigation. Lexington: University of Kansas Press, 1994.

Pitman, Ann Mitchell. Inside the Jewelry Box: A Collectors Guide to Costume Jewelry, Identification, and Values. Paducah, Ky.: Collector Books, 2004.

Severa, Joan. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900. Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995.

---. Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840-1860. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 2006.

Zeepyat, Charlotte. Queen Victoria's Family: A Century of Photographs 1840-1940. Reprint, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: Sutton Publishing, 2003.

Evidence Evaluation and Presentation

Anderson, Robert C. "Secrets of the Great Migration Study Project: Squeezing More out of the Early New England Records." Paper presented at the 2004 Federation of Genealogical Societies conference, Austin, Texas. Audio tape available from Syllabus material available from <>.

Board for Certification of Genealogists. The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2000.

Cerny, Johni, and Arlene H. Eakle. Ancestry's Guide to Research. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1984.

Croom, Emily Anne. The Sleuth Book for Genealogists. Strategies for More Successful Family History Research. Betterway Books, 2000.

Gouldrup, Lawrence. Writing the Family Narrative. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1992.

Hatcher, Patricia Law. Producing a Quality Family History. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996.

---. "Adding Detail to Your Narrative." Ancestry Magazine 21, no. 4 (July/August 2003).

Jupiter, Del E. "Matilda Madrid: One Woman's Tale of Bondage and Freedom." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 91, no. 1 (March 2003): 41-59.

Leary, Helen F. M. "Finding Truth in a Family Tradition: Sumner Antecedents of Demsey S. Goodman." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 81, no. 3 (September 1993).

Lennon, Rachal Mills. "The Wives of Jonathan Turner: Identification of Women in Pre-Twentieth-Century South Carolina." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 92, no. 4 (December 2004): 245-55.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. Regional Publishing Co., 2000.

---, ed. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001.

Remington, Gordon L. "A Royal Genealogical Fraud: Prince 'šÃ„òPetros Palaeologos' of the Isle of Wight." Genealogical Journal 32, no. 4 (2004): 154-57.

Rising, Marsha Hoffman. The Family Tree Problem Solver: Proven Methods for Scaling the Inevitable Brick Wall. Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2005.

Rubincam, Milton. Pitfalls in Genealogical Research. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1987.

Law, Medicine, and Genetics

Brooke, Heather. Your Right to Know: How to Use the Freedom of Information Act and other Access Laws. Pluto Press, 2005.

Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. Carmack's Guide to Copyright & Contracts: A Primer for Genealogists, Writers & Researchers. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005.

Charmasson, Henri. Patents, Copyrights & Trademarks for Dummies. For Dummies, 2004.

Lipson, Charles. Doing Honest Work in College: How to Prepare Citations, Avoid Plagiarism, and Achieve Real Academic Success. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Maida, Pamela, ed. Freedom of Information Act Guide and Privacy Act Overview. May 2002 ed. Diane Publishing Co., 2002.

Roderick, Thomas H. "The Y Chromosome in Genealogical Research: From Their Ys a Father Knows His Own Son." National Genealogical Society Quarterly 88 (June 2000): 122-43. An introduction to use of Y-DNA.

Savin, Alan. DNA for Family Historians. Maidenhead, England: the author, 2000. An excellent thirty-two-page booklet by an author who has organized a family DNA study.

Shawker, Thomas H. Unlocking Your Genetic History. Nashville: Rutledge Hill Press, 2004. The first comprehensive work on DNA for genealogists.

County Origins

Eichholz, Alice, ed. Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources. 3rd ed. Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2004.

Everton, George B., Sr. The Handy Book for Genealogists. 10th ed. Logan, Utah: Everton Publishers, 2002.

Kane, Joseph Nathan. The American Counties: Origins of County Names, Dates of Creation and Population Data, and Published Sources. 5th ed. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 2004.

Long, John H., ed. Atlas of Historical County Boundary Changes. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1993- . When completed, the series will include forty volumes.

Finding Maps, Atlases, and Place Names

Abate, Frank R., ed. Omni Gazetteer of the United States of America: Providing Name, Location, and Identification for Nearly 1,500,000 Populated Places and Geographic Features in the Fifty States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories. 11 vols. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1991.

American Geographical Society Library, one of North America's foremost geography and map collections, consists of over one million items with a worldwide scope, including more than 500,000 maps and 9,000 atlases.

Arizona State University Libraries offers links to Place Name Sites in the U.S., by states, and by country.

American Places Dictionary: A Guide to 45,000 Populated Places, Natural Features, and Other Places in the U.S. 4 vols. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1994.

Bancroft Library of the University of California, Berkeley, guides users to the vast collection of atlases, maps, and gazetteers at UC and affiliate libraries. A listing of Internet resources in maps and cartography is at the same site.

David Rumsey Collection features over 12,600 high-resolution digital maps from the David Rumsey Map Collection, one of the largest private collections of historic maps in the United States. The collection has thirty-six complete American atlases dating from 1733 to 1885.

Department of the Interior. Catalog of the United States Geological Survey Library. 25 vols. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1964. 1st and 2nd supplements. 15 vols. 1972, 1974. Also is the Geospatial One Stop guide to finding maps in the divisions of the Department of the Interior (including digitized maps).

Digital Librarian: Maps and Geography lists all known sites featuring digitized U.S., Canadian, and worldwide maps and atlases, current and historical.

Gregory, Ian N. A Place in History: A Guide to Using GIS in Historical Research. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2003.

Hargett, Janet L. List of Selected Maps of States and Territories. Special List Number 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives, 1998.

Hayward, John. A Gazetteer of the United States of America. Hartford, Conn.: Case, Tiffany, and Co. Online edition, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.

Johnson, Jenny Marie. Geographic Information (How to Find It, How to Use It). Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003.

Library of Congress. The Bibliographic Guide to Maps and Atlases: 2002. 5 vols. Boston: G. K. Hall, 2003.

Monmonier, Mark. Mapping It Out: Expository Cartography for the Humanities and Society Sciences (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing). Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993.

Newberry Library. Checklist of Printed Maps of the Middle West to 1900. Edited by Robert W. Karrow. 13 vols. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1981.

New York Public Library, Research Libraries. Dictionary Catalog of the Map Division. 10 vols. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1971.

Rumsey, David, and Edith M. Punt. Cartographical Extraordinaire: The Historical Map Transformed. Redlands, Calif.: ESRI Press, 2004.

Thackery, David. "Gazetteers: Identifying Research Localities." Ancestry Magazine 12, no. 4 (July/August 1994).

Thiry, Christopher J. J., ed. Guide to U.S. Map Resource/Map and Geography Round Table (MAGERT) of the American Library Association. 3rd ed. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press, 2005. A guide to hundreds of map collections and cartographic resources in libraries and repositories throughout the nation.

Thorndale, William, and William Dollarhide. Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. Reprint, 1987; Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2003.

University of Texas at Austin. The Perry-Casteñeda Map Collection at This world-renowned collection features several historical maps, urban and other, at the website.

History and Historical Atlases

Billington, Ray Allen, and Martin Ridge. Westward Expansion: A History of the American Frontier. 5th ed. New York: Macmillan, 1982.

Boyer, Paul S., et al. The Oxford Companion to United States History. London: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Cornelison, Pam, and Ted Yanik. The Great American History Finder: The Who, What, Where, When and Why of American History. 2nd updated rev. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 2004.

Earle, Jonathan. The Routledge Atlas of African American History. Routledge, 2000.

Gilbert, Martin, and Marin Gilbert. The Routledge Atlas of American History: From First Exploration to the Present Day. 4th ed. Routledge, 2003.

Grossman, James R., Ann Durkin Keating, and Janice L. Reiff. The Encyclopedia of Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.

Higgenbotham, Evelyn Brooks, et al. Harvard Guide to African-American History. Book and CD-ROM editions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001.

National Geographic Society. The National Geographic Historical Atlas of the United States. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2004.

Paullin, Charles O., and John K. Wright. Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States. 1932. Reprint, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1975.

Royce, Charles C. Indian Cessions in the United States. 1900. Reprint, New York: Arno, 1970. Electronic version at as U.S. Serial Set 4015.

Urdang, Laurence, and Arthur Meier Schlesinger Jr. The Timetables of American History. New York: Touchstone, Millennium edition, 2001.

Wile, Annadel N., et al. C.R.I.S.: The Combined Retrospective Index Set to Journals in History, 1838-1974. 11 vols. Washington, D.C.: Carrollton Press, 1977.

Wishart, David. Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. University of Nebraska Press, 2004.

General Reference

Bentley, Elizabeth. The Genealogist's Address Book. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists. The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual. Washington, D.C.: Board for Certification of Genealogists, 2000.

Cerny, Johni, and Wendy Elliott. The Library: A Guide to the LDS Family History Library. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1988.

Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Eales, Anne Bruner, and Robert M. Kvasnicka. Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives of the United States. 3rd ed. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2000.

Leary, Helen F. M., ed. North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. 2nd ed. Raleigh: North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996.

Mills, Elizabeth Shown, ed.. Professional Genealogy. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001.

Rose, Christine. Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures. San Jose, Calif.: CR Publications, 2004.

Szucs, Juliana. The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book. Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2003.

Warren, James, and Paula Stuart Warren. Getting the Most Mileage from Genealogical Research Trips. 3rd ed. St. Paul, Minn.: Warren Research and Publishing, 1998.

Warren, Paula Stuart, and James Warren. Your Guide to the Family History Library. Cincinnati: Betterway Books, 2001.