If you’re going to be researching your family, there are some books that you must have. These are not just the books that I’ve found useful, but books that I’ve returned to again and again.*
The Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources contains much need background information on the genealogy resources for every state. It provides information on each county, including when it was created, its parent county or counties, and the first year Deed and Probate records were recorded for that county.
You’ll also find contact information for archives, libraries and genealogical societies in that state, as well as a state map which shows the counties and it’s main city.
Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census
The Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Census provides a map for each state showing the counties enumerated in each census year overlaid on the state’s current counties. If you’re a visual person, like me, it’s a great way to understand how the boundaries shifted and counties were added over time.
Evidence: Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian is absolutely a must have for the family researcher. Knowing the source for any piece of information is the ONLY way to determine it’s value. Elizabeth Shown Mills not only explains how to cite a source correctly, but how to analyze that source. Very important stuff!
The answers to your family research questions can seldom be found in books. And when they are they are only what that author knew at that time. Sometimes, they are right. Sometimes, they are partially correct. And sometimes, they are flat out wrong. That’s why you need to know the source of that information, so you can follow-up, verify it, and if necessary build on it. I’ve found several instances where follow-up research on information I felt to be reliable proved incorrect with new information! (Okay, getting off the soap box now.)
Producing a Quality Family History
Of course, once you’ve done your research, you want to present to to the world, right? Or at least to family. And you want it to be the best. I’ve found Patricia Law Hatcher’s book Producing a Quality Family History to be very helpful in putting my research together in a cohesive, readable format.
Now if I could only find the time to finish the darn book!
* Links to Amazon from this page are affiliate links. If you purchase one of these books, I will earn a small commission. It will not change the final price of the book to you, though.