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The 5 Best Books on Genealogy Research

Genealogy research books can be incredibly helpful for anyone conducting family history research. Here are a few reasons why it's important to be aware of some of these books:

  1. Learning about research techniques: Genealogy research books often provide guidance on how to conduct effective research. They can teach you how to find and analyze different types of records, how to evaluate evidence, and how to organize your research findings. By learning about these techniques, you can become a more skilled and efficient researcher.

  2. Identifying useful resources: Genealogy research books often include lists of resources, such as archives, libraries, and online databases, that can be helpful for family history research. These resources may not be well-known or easily accessible, so having a guide can help you discover new sources of information.

  3. Understanding historical context: Genealogy research books can help you understand the historical context of your ancestors' lives. They can provide information on cultural and social norms, economic conditions, and political events that may have affected your family's history. This can help you interpret the records you find and build a more complete picture of your family's story.

  4. Avoiding common pitfalls: Genealogy research books often discuss common mistakes that researchers make, such as relying too heavily on assumptions or failing to verify the information. By learning about these pitfalls, you can avoid making the same mistakes and improve the accuracy of your research.  

    In this article, we will be discussing the five best books on genealogy research, as well as what makes each of them so special.

1. Professional Genealogy: A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers, and Librarians. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2001. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co.

This book introduces you to valuable resources and guides you through researching and writing to highlight your genealogical findings. This book is considered the textbook for genealogy research and you can find copies at your local library if you do not wish to purchase one.

2. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. 2017.

Do you remember having to cite your sources while you were in school? It's just as important to cite your records as well. Elizabeth Shown Mills provides a comprehensive dictionary for citing multiple sources.

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

The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual is a valuable resource for your library. This book outlines the standards used by professional genealogists which will help you determine if you have uncovered the correct sources for your family research.

4. Mastering Genealogical Proof. Jones, Thomas W. 2013.

One of the standards outlined in the book is the Genealogical Proof Standard. It is the most significant standard and Thomas Jones takes the BCG genealogical standards manual one step further with more detailed information about the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS).

5. Genealogy as Pastime and Profession. Jacobus, Donald Lines. 1968. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co.

This book exemplifies that you can enjoy the process of genealogical research as a pastime or as a professional. While times have changed, as have some of the research methods, the principles in this book have not. As Jacobus says in the last sentence of this short book, “Accept nothing unreservedly until proved.”

Ready to start tracing your family tree, but not sure where to start? Or how do you go about finding the information you need? The answer is genealogy research. By delving into your family's past, you can learn about the lives and times of your ancestors, and piece together your family history. But genealogy research can be a daunting task. There are so many resources out there, and it can be difficult to know where to start. That's why we've put together a list of the five best books on genealogy research. These books will help you get started on your family history and guide you through the process of finding and using the best resources. So, what are you waiting for? Check out these books today and start your journey into your family's past.


Carol Walsh

Article by Carol Walsh

Carol Walsh is the CEO of Creative Roots, a professional genealogy company. She has a passion for preserving family history and storytelling. Carol's research methodology centers around fact-finding and publishing in a format that readers can use to preserve the stories. Her ultimate goal is to help families connect with their past and each other.