|Tools & Technique of
by Joseph C. Wolf
Genealogy is a fascinating subject whether it is tracing a family history to establish eligibility in a patriotic society, or to make a contribution to the preservation of local and family history. It requires diligence, perseverance and imagination.
Every man should study the past in order to understand the future. The history of Colonial America, westward migration and the story of the growth of our country will come alive and take on a new meaning when you trace each generation of pioneers.Perhaps your family tree has on its branches a Revolutionary soldier, a Governor, or a representative in the state legislature. You may even have a Mayflower ancestor or a first family of Virginia.
Compiling a genealogy requires care, skill and labor. The genealogist must test every bit of information in relation to possibility, probability and from the various viewpoints of history, geography, physiology, logic, and the other sciences. Include any material that can pass these tests. Exclude any that cannot. If you make these tests and exercise this care, you can call yourself a genealogist.
TOOLS and TECHNIQUE of GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH
Many a man has set out to trace his family history only to end up three or four years later in a state of greater confusion than when he started. Many a woman has been driven to distraction by the intricate inter-twinings of the branches of the family tree.
The purpose of this book is to help you in the search for your ancestors by pointing out many short cuts and proven methods of research. These are tricks of the trade that I have acquired after many years of genealogical research. While working in the Genealogical Department of a major research library, and through association with some of the competent professional and amateur genealogists who regularly visited there, I have come upon some stray bits of information and some tricks of technique that may be new to even the most experienced genealogical researcher.
I do not know what started you on your interest in genealogy, but it was probably one of the half dozen or so aims that prompt most people to look up their ancestors. These are:
1. To satisfy a natural curiosity about the past and about the people who lived in the old days.
2. To determine relationship to some historical person or to some member of the nobility.
3. To establish claim to membership in the D.A.R. (Daughters of the American Revolution), S.A.R. (Sons of the American Revolution), or some other patriotic society.
4. Or, finally, the aim may be simply the fun connected with research - the pure joy of the search and interest in uncovering unusual things.
Most people pursue one or more of these aims with a grim seriousness that often threatens to obscure their satisfaction when they finally do accomplish their end. Once in while, however, I come across a genealogist who thoroughly enjoys his hobby, even when the joke is on him. One man that I met, for example, became a member of the Mayflower Society through an ancestor who, it turned out, was the first man hanged for murder in Plymouth. Undaunted, he maintained his family pride even when he learned that the murderer's son, Francis, was sent to jail for drinking (that is, smoking) tobacco on the highway. At this point, however, the members of the family discarded their evil ways and from then on became honorable citizens. A son of Francis moved to another part of Massachusetts and founded the first church in that town. The amusing thing about the matter, the man informed me, is that many persons who could become members of the Mayflower Society through this same ancestor have dropped everything upon discovering the hanging.
But whatever your aim, and whatever the pleasure you take in following it, the procedure is the same. I am going to discuss, first, the equipment necessary for genealogical research; then I shall talk about where to start, followed by an outline of library research and general suggestions on research procedure.
Throughout these pages I shall make frequent reference to various types of tools and their use. Some of the things I will tell you are very simple and obvious. I shall mention them,however, because I know from experience that even people who have been working for years on their family history have not developed standard systems of research and have not provided themselves with practical tools for their work.
BEFORE YOU START
In starting out in genealogical research you must be aware of one important fact. It is this: that before you finish with your search you will have acquired a huge heap of notes, manuscripts, pictures, photostats, maps and even strange little penciled scraps of paper that came from goodness knows where.
Genealogical research requires as much care and intelligence as any other research project. It is vitally important, therefore, to start out with a definite plan for arranging and filing the material that you gather.
It is also important to remember that in genealogical research you will find a great number of apparently unrelated facts and items. An item here and an item there may seem to have no connection, and yet a third item may link the three together. Such a happy combination is impossible if, through bad organization, the first two were not accessible when you found the third.
REMEMBER, RETAIN ALL PERTINENT DATA AND FILE IT IN AN INTELLIGENT, ORGANIZED MANNER SO THAT YOU WILL BE ABLE TO FIND IT WHEN YOU NEED IT!
Provide yourself with a loose-leaf notebook. One eight-and-a-half by eleven inches in size is preferable because it is not only convenient to carry, but you can insert and rearrange all your correspondence, typewritten papers, photostats and other valuable notes and papers with a minimum of trouble. Many genealogists also carry a smaller pocket size for jotting down notes and information when traveling.
I should like to say a word about that common combination, pencil and paper. Pencil is all right for temporary notes, but eventually, smudging will result in loss of legibility or even in complete obliteration. Pen and ink make the ideal combination - wherever, of course, the library or institution will permit their use.
You must keep an accurate record of all the source material that you consult. An eight-and-one-half inch loose leaf notebook will work well here also. Fill it with lined paper.Use one notebook or section of one notebook for each individual surname or location that you search. Enter each source that you consult. Write down the library call number, title, author, publisher, date of publication, page number, volume number, and any other related information. This way you will know at a glance which sources you have consulted for a particular surname, thus preventing a time consuming duplication of research. You will also be able to tell what direction your research is taking and what areas you have not explored.
PEDIGREE CHARTS AND FAMILY GROUP SHEETS
The pedigree chart and family group sheet are invaluable aids for the genealogist. The pedigree chart shows direct descent and will not include brothers and sisters. It will show your parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. The family group sheet will record the children, if any, resulting from each marriage. Along with the children's names, you will also record statistical information such as dates and places of birth, death and marriage on the group sheet. Insert these records in your workbook.
Many types of pedigree charts and family group sheets are available. Pedigree charts range from elaborate fan shapes designed for as many as ten generations to simple bracketed charts for five generations.
There are also various patented devices for holding notes, or for preserving family records, which are obtainable at bookstores that specialize in genealogical publications. The old-fashioned natural tree with its trunk, branches and twigs periodically falls in and out of favor but is, nevertheless, in interesting way to display your lineage.
Use history sheets to record supplementary information about your ancestors such as anecdotes, newspaper accounts, or any other miscellaneous historical information you may uncover. This type of information will add color and depth to your family history.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SOURCES
The two basic classifications of sources from which you will obtain your genealogical information are Primary and Secondary.
Primary sources consist of authentic, original records such as land deeds, birth and death certificates, wills, marriage certificates, or photocopies of original documents and official government records.
Secondary sources consist of family oral traditions, records later copied or transcribed (there may be errors) and any other information recorded sometime after the fact: the longer afterward, the less reliable.
Published family histories are secondary sources and should not be taken for fact as they are often inaccurate. Do not discount secondary sources altogether. They will often provide valuable clues and you can include them on your history sheet. Sometimes they may be the only information that you have about a particular ancestor.
WHERE TO BEGIN
You can begin your search right in your own home. Start with the person that you know best: yourself! Write down your name, your date and place of birth and your date and place of marriage. Next, record the following information about your parents: their names (always use a wife's maiden name), date and place of birth, date and place of marriage, date and place of death, and place of burial. Now do the same with your grandparents. You now have three generations. Continue back as far as you can. After finishing, record all this information on your pedigree chart.
Now get in touch with your relatives: parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Contact the oldest first. If you are fortunate enough to be able to interview them in person, bring along your pedigree charts and family group sheets so that you will know what information you are lacking. Gather all the information from them that you can. Take notes, or better yet, use a tape recorder if you have one.
If your relatives are distant, contact them by letter. Type or print clearly. Inform them of your intent and supply them with a list of specific questions. Be brief and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Also consider visiting or writing old friends of the family as they may also be able to supply you with valuable information.
Many elderly people have a very clear memory of things that they heard said when they were younger, and such information can be of great value. Remember, however - and this point cannot be over emphasized -that you must check and verify this information in every possible way before accepting it as factual. It is better to regard the statements of relatives and old settlers as valuable hints and clues toward further research rather than as reliable history.
Every family has records of some sort and every home has a collection of such memoranda. They may be relics, diplomas, scrapbooks, old clippings, albums, old letters, diaries, official documents of one sort or another, journals, and even samplers which often contain genealogical information.
THE FAMILY BIBLE
One of the most widely used storehouses of documents and data is the old family Bible. Many a valuable letter or paper found its way between the leaves of the family Bible rather than the doubtful security of a bank vault. More often than not, the Bible proved to be a safe resting place. If you are fortunate, and if your ancestors were given to filing letters and clippings and other information in the Bible, you may find a good deal of useful information in the family copy. The chances are even better that you will find written therein the births and deaths of at least one or two generations.
In telling you how to use this bible information, I can do no better than to suggest that you first determine when the bible was printed. If the bible was printed in 1850, for instance, you can be certain that any information dated before that year was either entered from memory or, perhaps transferred from an earlier bible. In any event, these entries should be carefully verified from other sources. I should also like to make this suggestion: because essential genealogical information is often contained in family Bibles it is important to insure against their loss and destruction. This can be done by photocopying the title page and all pertinent genealogical data and giving copies to several close relatives.
Incidentally, it is always prudent and often helpful to mark all family portraits and pictures in such a way that future generations will be able to identify them.
When you have gathered all the information that the family Bible and the family memory have to offer; when you have equipped yourself with all the names and dates and places that you possibly can get; then, and not until then, are you ready to go to the library to begin your research in books.
But before I explore research in books, I should like to make five suggestions:
1. In tracing your ancestors always proceed from the present to the past. It is the easiest way because more is known about present and recent generations than about the earlier ones; and it is the best way because it minimizes the danger of getting off on a branch line.
2. Make a note of every book you search in - especially if you find nothing in it. You may spend a day or even two days in going through book after book without finding a single reference to your family, and you may feel that you have wasted completely those two days. You did not. This activity is called "negative research." You did not find what you were looking for, but you know that what you are looking for is not in the fifty or sixty books you consulted in those two days. If you have listed their titles (preferably on some small cards alphabetically arranged by author), you will have a "works consulted" file which will tell you instantly what works you have already examined. It is a system that can save much duplication of effort.
3. In reading old records and documents it is important to remember that with the passage of time the meanings of words change. For example, in early records the term "cousin" did not necessarily imply blood relationship, and "brother" could mean a brother-in-Christ or a brother-in-law. "Son-in-law" occasionally meant step-son, and there are other similar traps for the unwary.
4. Every name is important, no matter where you find it. The ordinary man whose chief aim in life was to be an honorable citizen and a prompt taxpayer may be a very elusive person. His record might exist anywhere: in a local history, a medical or business directory or some other special compilation that has no direct connection with family history or the science of genealogy. There is no rule limiting the bibliography of genealogy. You might find a name anywhere - and you must look for it there!
5. Finally, you will not be able to compile your genealogy in a few hours. Sometimes a few hours work will show great results, but often days, weeks or months will pass with very little accomplished.
With these hints and suggestion in mind you are ready to begin work in a library.
It will be helpful if you live near a source of genealogical records.
Listed below and at the end of this book are some major sources of genealogical records.
NATIONAL ARCHIVES: Washington, D.C. The National archives houses permanent, noncurrent records of the Federal Government dating from the days of the Continental Congress. Included are census schedules, passenger arrival lists, United States military records and records of the Confederate States of America. Photocopies and microfilms of many of the records located in the National Archives are available for a small fee.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS: The Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. has an extensive collection of genealogical materials such as complied genealogies, publications of patriotic and hereditary societies, lists of passengers arriving in the United States, and published rosters of soldiers and sailors, both foreign and American, participating in wars which involved the United States since Colonial times. The library offers a photo duplication service, for a fee, on unrestricted material.
LIBRARY OF THE DAUGHTERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION: Washington, D.C. The D.A.R. library has an extensive collection of genealogical materials including entries in family Bibles and inscriptions on tombstones, published and unpublished genealogies and copies of church records.
GENEALOGY LIBRARY, CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS: Salt Lake City, Utah. This is perhaps the largest genealogical library in the world. There are tens of thousands of volumes of special manuscript histories and publications on its open shelves alone. It has an archive of millions of family group sheets with millions of index cards.
You will find genealogical collections in the libraries of many large cities and in State historical societies and genealogical societies. See the bibliography at the back of this book for the American Library Directory which lists all the libraries in the United States and includes special collections, and the Directory of Historical Societies and Agencies in the United States and Canada which has over 3,000 listings.
THE LIBRARY STAFF
The library staff is not there to trace your family history for you but they can give you valuable help. It is advisable, on your first visit to a library that you have not used before, to go to the person in charge of the genealogical department and ask him or her to acquaint you with any special indexes they may have compiled, and with the general routine in that particular library. Most libraries have developed catalogues or guides to certain of their collections. Intelligent use of these will save you time and effort.
The urge to collect information about one's family is probably as old as humanity. The first family record printed in America is said to be the Genealogy of the Family of Mr. Samuel Stebbens and Mrs. Hannah Stebbens, published at Hartford, Connecticut, 1771, a small twenty-four page book of which only a few copies are known to exist.
If you are fortunate, you will find that a published genealogy includes your branch of the family. You probably will not be fortunate but if you are, be sure to verify that it is of your family. Also, just because it is a published genealogy does not necessarily mean that it is accurate. You must still verify all the information that you plan to use.
Your research should not exclude periodicals which contain genealogies and notes on family history. The best available guides to these sources are the books by Jacobus, Pitoni, Rogers and Sweet, as listed in the bibliography in this book. The periodicals indexed contain genealogies and such items as transcripts and abstracts of local records, probate records, church records and cemetery records.
Be sure to examine periodicals which include genealogies and notes on family history. The best available guide to this source is Jacobus' Index to Genealogical Periodicals. This tool indexes such periodicals as the New England Register and the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, two old standbys in this field. They contain such items as genealogies, transcripts and abstracts of local records, probate records, church records, and cemetery records. There also are many periodicals covering other sections of the country, such as the William and Mary Quarterly for Virginia, and the publications of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania.
When you have exhausted the periodicals as a source of material, the next thing to do is to locate a history of the town or county in which you know your ancestor lived.
Before the development of the organized historical profession, the earliest collecting and writing of history was done by private citizens and by state historical and antiquarian societies. Early historical writing was often local in nature, consisting of ephemera such as Forth of July orations, centennial sermons and speeches, and the reminiscences of old settlers.
Look for a local history of the town or county in which your ancestor lived. Many town and county histories include genealogical material ranging from a brief mention of residents to short accounts of their families. Such sketches show the connection of the individual or the family with the community. You may find several generations in one article. Many local histories also contain abstracts of local records such as wills and deeds.
There are a few bibliographies of local history, but nothing, to my knowledge, that is comprehensive or up-to-date. Hammond compiled one for New Hampshire towns and Flagg produced similar one for Massachusetts.
Another very useful list is the catalogue of genealogies and local histories published by Goodspeed's Book Shop in Boston. This, incidentally, is a useful tool for small genealogical libraries.
Before I leave the subject of town and county histories, another word of warning is in order. For various reasons, many towns have changed their names at one time or another, and many state and county lines have shifted. Often, two or three new counties were formed out of one large county, with an adjustment of lines all around.
Boundary changes can create much difficulty for the genealogical researcher. Some time ago I came across this item in one of the Chicago newspapers. It was date-lined Havana, Alabama, and read: "J. W. Whatley of Havana has lived in Greene, Tuscaloosa, and Hale counties, but has not moved in 72 years. The county boundary lines did the moving." When the searcher works through the history and records of a county without finding mention of his ancestor, he will do well to check the history of the boundary lines. He may find his materials in the seat of the next county a few miles away.
This proves the importance of maps in genealogical research. Old maps are more helpful than modern maps since they show the geographical condition as it was at the time your family lived in the territory. Use state, county and town maps, and topographical and rural delivery maps. If they are too large, you can fold and inserted them in your loose-leaf book. Never attempt a serious search unless a good map is available.
An analysis of the 1790 census called A Century of Population Growth contains a series of maps showing the development of the country from 1790 to 1900 and shows the boundary lines of the various counties and changes which have taken place in them from time to time. This volume also includes a list of names taken from the 1790 schedules showing the spellings used for each name in the different schedules.
ADDITIONAL LIBRARY SOURCES
Other records found in genealogical libraries and in public libraries having genealogical sections include copies of official records such as birth, marriage and death certificates.
As you progress in your research, follow these suggestions. Search for missing birth, death and marriage records in the proper locality. If the vital records of the town were destroyed or not kept at an early date, the next step would be to search any available church records. These often contain the records of baptisms, marriages and deaths.
Sometimes they contain additional information not found with the official record of the event as given by the town clerk. For example, you may find the names of godfathers, of witnesses, or of other members of the family.
Other valuable tools are the patriotic society lineage books. They not only list the member of the society, but also give an outline of the ancestry required. The intervening generations, with their possible changes of surname and the connection between families, are useful for ready reference.
All this, of course, is an illustration of what I have said before: There is no limit to the bibliography of genealogy. Use every book that contains the desired name in compiling a history of that family. The choice of books depends largely on the activities of the members of the family. Look for a minister in such works as the Annals of the American Pulpit, and a soldier, in the army records or the pension records. Then, too, there are innumerable resources for discovering proofs of identity, or relationship lineal or collateral, and no one book can tell you how to work.
WRITING FOR RECORDS
There is, of course, much work to be done outside of libraries. This consists largely of writing to others for information and help, and very often such correspondence is the only way to get absolutely necessary information. Again I feel that I should apologize for elaborating on such a simple point, but I have seen so many rudely-written letters, and so many justifiably sharp replies, that a word of suggestion may be helpful. Always introduce yourself at the beginning of your letter. State your problem briefly and clearly and follow that statement with a series of direct questions. If possible, arrange these questions in some logical order so that the person questioned will be able to see something of the point of your inquiry. Make your letter interesting, and keep in mind that genealogy does not interest most people, and that genealogical problems, particularly those of a stranger, do not seem important to them.
Always enclose return postage, or a stamped, self-addressed envelope. When writing to town or county clerks for vital records, probate records, land records, or tax lists, offer to pay any fee they may charge and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope for reply.
Vital records consist of records of births, marriages, and deaths and are generally located in the appropriate county courthouse. If the vital records of a town were not kept at an early date, or worse yet destroyed, the next source would be any available church records.
Church records often contain the records of baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Sometimes they contain additional information not found with the official record of the event as given by the town clerk. For example, you may find the names of godfathers, witnesses, or other members of the family.
When trying to locate church records, write to the pastor or officials of the church to which you believe your ancestor may have belonged, if it is still in existence. If they do not have the records, they can tell you where to find them. Old church records often find their way to nearby historical societies.
The first census of the entire population of the United States took place in 1790 and every ten years after that. These records from 1790 to 1880 are available for public inspection.
The Federal Census can provide much valuable information about your ancestors. The 1790 census lists the heads of families by name and the number of members of the household. From 1850 on, the census includes not only the name of the head of household but the names of all the members of the family and their age, occupation, and place of birth. You can obtain microfilm copies of the available census records from the National Archives for a moderate fee. You can also find Federal census records in various state libraries and libraries with genealogical holdings.
A search through the land records of an area in which an ancestor lived may result in much useful genealogical information. These records, usually located in the county courthouse, sometimes show the date a person arrived in the country and his previous place of residence. If a person's property was divided amongst his or her heirs after death, the records often show the names of the children and their residences.
Probate records are another excellent source from which you can glean much genealogical information. Besides wills, probate records include several related documents such as an inventory and appraisal of the estate. Amongst these records you may find the names of the wife, children and grandchildren of the deceased and sometimes aunts, uncles and cousins.
Ship's passenger lists are useful in identifying an ancestor who arrived in this country from abroad. Located in the National Archives are Federal passenger lists for the years from 1820 to 1945. These lists show the name, age, occupation, sex and country of origin of each passenger.
Military records are many and varied and provide a bountiful source of genealogical data. The National Archives has the United States military records dating as far back as 1775 and the Revolutionary War. The Guide to Genealogical Records in the National Archives provides a complete list of all the archive's military records and shows the type of information found in each.
City, telephone, professional, and trade directories can help you pinpoint the location of your ancestors during certain periods of time and often provide occupational information as well. Look for directories in large libraries and also major telephone offices. The American Antiquarian Society listed the town and city directories through 1860 in a bibliography by Dorthea N. Spear (1961). This checklist numbers 1,647 entries.
State records are important and found in the office of the secretary of state of our older states. They are usually available for personal inspection. You should examine them as they furnish material of great value. Many states have printed these records. Look for sets in most libraries. They contain such information as petitions, affidavits, records of special court cases, commissions, bills of lading and commercial papers, military rosters and reports, surveys, and so on. Do not overlook other valuable printed sources such as collections of wills and deeds. Various societies and individuals have printed these collections. They include such titles as:
William M. Sargent, Maine Wills, 1640-1760
(Portland, Maine, 1887)
Jane B. Cotton, The Maryland Calendar of Wills, (8 Vols.,
Baltimore, Maryland, 1901-1928)
James M. Magruder, Index of Maryland Colonial Wills,
1634-1777 (3 Vols., Annapolis, Maryland, c. 1933)
Suffolk County, Massachusetts, Suffolk Deeds (14 Vols.,
When all other records have failed to produce information, you will have to start digging in cemeteries - figuratively, not literally. The dates and inscriptions on tombstones are your records here, and they are often very valuable ones. Remember that in most old settlements it was as much a custom to have private burial plots on the farms as in church or town graveyards. Many of these private burial places ante date the public ones. Hence a thorough search must be made of all such possible places. If you fail in one place, search the cemeteries in neighboring communities.
Tombstones, of course, are not always helpful. Imagine the feelings of the earnest seeker after information who came across this inscription: "I was somebody. Who, is no business of yours." And some of them are obviously unreliable, as, for example, the one that reads: "Here lies John Mound, Who was lost at sea and never found."
I would like to mention just one more type of tool, and then I shall have finished. That tool is the newspaper index, and, I am happy to say, we are getting more and more of them. Those already in existence are Palmer's Index to the [London] Times Newspaper which runs from 1790 to date, the New York Times Index, 1913 to date, the New York Daily Tribune Daily Index, 1875 to 1906, and the Index to the Burlington [Vermont] Free Press from 1848-1868. These newspaper indexes are found only in the larger libraries, but there is always a chance that they will contain a reference to an obituary notice or some other item relating to your ancestor, and they may well be consulted whenever you happen to be working in an institution which has them.
So much for the tools of the trade. Before concluding, I should like to say a few more words on technique. Remember that nothing can be done toward establishing the earlier families until the more recent ones have been found. The local sources are nearly always productive and will supply many clues. If your ancestor lived in one place and then moved to another, the proper procedure would be to search the records in the latter place from birth records to warrants of land. This may establish the activities of the family over a certain period,may determine the duration of residence at that place, and may also give suggestions on former residence. In earlier days the record of the first purchase of land by a person mentioned his former residence. Because of this fact, it is occasionally possible to trace the wanderings of a family for quite a few years.
Here is what I think is one of the most helpful of all devices. When you have exhausted all other means and methods of research, and you do not know where to turn next, make what is known as a "circular search." Get a map of the pertinent territory and, using the earliest known residence of your ancestor as the center, draw, with a compass, a circle at a radius of about five miles. Then search all the sources in all the towns included in this area. If this fails to produce information, extend the radius another five miles and again go through the records of every town. You can continue this indefinitely. It very seldom fails.
CHECK YOUR REFERENCES
Finally, may I urge one more point? May I make a plea for accuracy? You must verify every note, every reference, every scrap of information you get. Simply because a date is in a book, and the book is in a famous library, does not mean that the date is a reliable one. I cannot emphasize this point too strongly, for on it hinges the reputation of your research and of all genealogical research. Remember the last words of the dying scholar as his pupils gathered at his bedside: "Check your references!"
BIBLIOGRAPHY OF GENEALOGICAL SOURCES
This list is by no means complete and is intended only to illustrate the types of Genealogical materials that are available to the researcher.
Adler's Directory, A Compilation of Passenger
Steamships Sailing from European Ports and
Arriving in the Eastern Ports of the United
States from 1889-1929, Inclusive. New York:
Steamship Directory Publishers, 1940.
Does not contain passenger lists.
Adams, James T.
Atlas of American History. New York: Scribner,
Early roads, trails, and waterways shown on
these old maps illustrate migration patterns
helpful to the researcher.
American Society of Genealogists
Genealogical Research: Methods and
Sources. Washington, D.C., 1960.
A collection of studies by twenty-eight
authorities. Part 1, General Considerations;
Part 2, Materials for Research; Part 3,
Regional Genealogy; Part 4, Per-American
Ancestry; Part 5, Special Fields of Investigation.
Good for regional approach.
Babbel, June A.
Lest We Forget: A Guide to Genealogical
Research in the Nation's Capitol. Ed.3.
Arlington, Va., Potomac Stake, L.D.S., 1965.
Valuable for planning a research trip to
Banks, Charles E.
Topographical Dictionary of 885 English
Emigrants to New England, 1620-1650;
Elijah E. Brownell, ed. Baltimore: Southern
Book Company Reprint, 1957.
An aid in locating place origin of many English
Bennett, Archibald F.
Methods of Tracing Pedigrees: Lessons
1-40. Salt Lake City: The Genealogical
Society of Utah, 1936.
Excellent beginners source, extracted from
Mormon publications. Introduction and
instruction in research in New England,
Middle Atlantic, and Southern states.
Bidlack, Russell E.
First Steps in Climbing the Family Tree.
Detroit: Detroit Society for Genealogical
Brief, readable, and interesting article;
tool for the beginner.
Cache Genealogical Library, Logan, Utah
Handbook for Genealogical Correspondence;
John F. Valentine, ed. Salt Lake City:
An excellent guide to a subject important
to any genealogical researcher.
Cavaliers and Pioneers, A Calendar of
Virginia Land Grants, 1623-1800. Richmond,
An important tool for locating settlers in
Virginia, particularly in the years before
the official census was taken.
Colket, Meredith B.
Guide to Genealogical Records in the
National Archives. Washington, D.C.:
Superintendent of Documents, 1964.
Detailed description of the material available
and the department in which it can be found.
Fine guide for the researcher who must do
most of his or her work by correspondence.
Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World;
Leon Seltzer, ed. Morningside Heights,
New York: Columbia University Press, by
arrangement with J. B. Lippincott Company,
A standard geographical dictionary which is
found in most libraries. Any edition will do for
De Valinger, Leon
Reconstructed 1790 Census of Delaware.
National Genealogical Society Publication No.
10. Washington D.C., 1954.
Since the original was destroyed, these tax lists
furnish an adequate substitute for the 1790
census of Delaware.
Doane, Gilbert H.
Searching for your Ancestors. Minneapolis:
University of Minnesota Press, 1973.
Fourth revised edition of a favorite guide for
the amateur genealogist.
Everton, George B., and Rasmuson, Gunnar
The Handy Book for Genealogists. Ed. 6. rev.
and enl. Logan, Ut.: Everton Publishers, 1971.
In several editions, the first of which appeared
in 1949. A guide to regional histories, maps,
libraries, etc., more advanced that Everton's
HOW BOOK. Contains bibliographies, including
Canada and European countries.
Falley, Margaret Dickson
Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research.
2 v. Privately printed, 1961-62.
A guide to the genealogical records, methods
and sources in Ireland.
Faust, Albert Bernhardt
Lists of Swiss Emigrants in the Eighteenth
Century to the American Colonies. 2 v.
Washington, D.C.: National Genealogy
For the genealogical researcher working on
Mennonite families, many of whom migrated
to the Midwest.
Filby, P. William
American and British Genealogy and Heraldry.
Chicago: American Library Association, 1970.
A descriptive listing of 1,825 books, almost every
entry being annotated. Among the standard
guidebooks to the fields of genealogy and heraldry.
Fisher, Carleton Edward
Topical Index to National Genealogical
Society Quarterly: V. 1-50, 1912-1962.
Washington, D.C.: National Genealogical
More than a topical index, since a large
portion is devoted to names of individuals
Gardner, David E. and Smith, Frank
Genealogical Research in England and
Wales. v. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft
A guide to churchyards and cemeteries,
offices of civil registration, census, Bishop's
Transcripts, with reference to Nonconformists,
Jews, and Roman Catholics in Great Britain and
Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library.
4 v. Boston: G.K. Hall & Company, 1960.
This four volume work is a photographic
reproduction of the Analytical Index of the
Newberry Library. It lists family names to
found in selected volumes in the Newberry
Genealogies in the Library of Congress;
Marion J. Kaminkow, ed. 2 v. Baltimore:
Magna Carta Book Co., 1972.
Lists genealogies held by the Library of Congress.
Greenwood, Val D.
Researchers Guide to American Genealogy;
with an introduction by Milton Rubincam.
Baltimore: Genealogical Publishers, 1973.
An invaluable tool for all researchers.
Hamilton-Edwards, Gerald Kenneth Savey
In Search of Scottish Ancestry. Baltimore:
Genealogical Publishers, 1972.
Somewhat general but important to the
researcher because the author is an
authority in the field.
Heinemann, Charles Brunk
"First Census" of Kentucky, 1790.
Washington, D.C.: G.M. Brumbaugh,
A privately compiled list of taxpayers
appearing in the tax lists of all Kentucky
counties which were established at the time
of the first federal census.
1820 Federal Census of Indiana.
Indianapolis: Genealogy Section of
the Indiana Historical Society, 1966.
Complete in itself, this fist census of
Indiana is invaluable for Midwest Research.
Hinshaw, William Wade
Encyclopedia of American Quaker
Genealogy, comp. by T. W. Marshall.
Ann Arbor, Mich.: Edwards Bothers,
Quaker records are the most complete
of any church records; this set is a
standard work in the field.
Hoenstine, Floyd G.
Guide to Genealogical and Historical
Research in Pennsylvania. Ed. 3, rev.
and enl. Hollidaysburg, Pa., 1972.
Not only a fine bibliography of Pennsylvania
sources but also an index to material on many
Hotten, John Camden
Original Lists of Persons of Quality; Emigrants;
Religious Exiles; Political Rebels; . . . and
Others Who Went from Great Britain to the
American Plantations. Ed. 2, 1880. Baltimore:
Reprint, Genealogical Publishing Company,
1961 and 1968.
This is a detailed compilation of the earliest
lists of passengers to America.
Index to American Genealogies. Ed. 5.
Albany, N.Y.: Joel Munsell's Sons,
1900. Supplement 1900-1908, published
Surname index of genealogical material
from local histories, periodicals, biographies
and printed family histories.
Jacobus, Donald Lines
Genealogy as a Pastime and Profession.
New Haven: Tuttle, Morehouse & Taylor
Mr. Jacobus writes from his vast knowledge
of the subject, cites many examples of
misleading and erroneous statements, and
gives many interesting case histories.
Jacobus, Donald Lines
Index to Genealogical Periodicals. v. 1,
1858-1931; v. 2, 1932-1946; v. 3, 1947-1952.
1932-1953. Baltimore: Reprint,
Genealogical Publishing Company, 1963-65.
Contains a name index which also gives
the locale, another index of places and
subjects including births, deaths, marriages,
military rolls, emigrant lists, church records,
etc. In volume 3 is an index of a number of
books chiefly relating to families of New
England and New York, and prepared for
the author's own use.
Jacobus, Donald Lines
"To Trace Your Ancestry," American
Genealogist, XL (1964), 240.
Brief article for researchers who are not yet experienced.
Old Kentucky Entries and Deeds. Filson
Club Publications No. 34. Louisville,
Ky.: Standard Printing Company, Inc., 1926.
Since Kentucky material is somewhat scarce,
this is an important aid in pinpointing the
location of early families in the state.
Kirkham, E. Kay
Research in American Genealogy:
A Practical Approach to Genealogical
Research. Salt Lake City, 1956.
An expansion of the author's ABC'S
OF AMERICAN GENEALOGICAL
RESEARCH, 1954. It gives the location
of the seats of all the counties in the
United States and the provinces of Canada.
Knittle, Walter Allen
Early 18th Century Palatine Emigration.
Philadelphia: Dorrence, 1937.
Fine background material on early
Palatine families. Appendices include
several valuable early lists seldom found
Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists,
1583-1825: Being a Guide to Published
Lists of Early Immigrants to North America.
Ed. 3, rev. and enl. by Richard J. Wolfe;
with a list of Passenger Arrival Records in
the National Archives by Frank E. Bridgers.
New York: New York Public Library, 1963.
Contains a detailed listing of some hidden
passenger lists prior to the microfilmed lists
available at the National Archives.
Morton Allen Directory of European
Passenger Steamship Arrivals, for the Years
1890-1930 . . . . New York: Immigration
Information Bureau, 1931.
Does not contain passenger lists.
National Genealogical Society
Index of Revolutionary War Pension
Applications; by Sayde Giller. Special
Publications, no. 32. Washington, D.C., 1966.
Corrections to the Index of Revolutionary
War Pension Applications; by Sayde Giller.
Special Publication no. 31. Washington, D.C., 1965.
Time savers for the researcher; indexes
by surname the pension material available
from the National Archives.
New York (State). Adjutant General's Office
Index of Awards on Claims of the Soldiers
of the War of 1812. Reprint. Baltimore:
Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969.
The claimants listed represent various states,
although the service was in New York.
Ohio Family Historians
1830 Federal Population Census: Ohio.
Index. 2 v. in 8 pts. Columbus: Ohio
Library Foundation, 1964.
See note for 1820 Federal Population Census:
Ohio Family Historians
Index to the 1850 Federal Population Census
of Ohio; comp. by the Ohio Family Historians
and their friends. Mineral Ridge, O.: Harshman, 1972.
Probably the most important of the Ohio
census indexes, since 1850 is the first census
listing all members of the household by name.
Ohio Library Foundation
1820 Federal Population Census: Ohio.
Index. Columbus, O.: 1964.
Indispensable in Ohio Research. Not
only a shortcut to the census but helpful
in locating surnames by county.
Pension Roll of 1835. Orig. pub. as
Report from the Secretary of War . . . in
Relation to the Pension Establishment of
the United States War Department, 23rd
Cong. 1st Sess., Sen. Doc. 514, Serial Nos.
249-51. 3 vols. in 4. (1835) Baltimore: 1968.
The most extensive roll of Revolutionary
Pensioners ever published. It contains the
records of over 75,000 officers and soldiers,
regular and militia, with data on rank,
allowance, service, when placed on pension,
age, date of death, etc.
Pine, Leslie Gilbert
Genealogists Encyclopedia. New York:
Weybright and Talley, 1969.
Fine source for clarification of genealogical
and heraldic terminology.
Pitoni, Venanzio P.
Guidex: Genealogical Research Guide to
Principal Sources and Indexes. Ed. 2.
Consists of a bibliography of Revolutionary
War Sources, books, and records, general
and by state.
Pope, Charles Henry
Pioneers of Massachusetts. Boston: 1900.
A standard work for New England genealogical
Rand, McNalley and Company
Commercial Atlas and Marketing Guide.
(Many Editions) Chicago: 1955-72.
A necessary tool in any Public Library;
particularly useful in genealogical research.
Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the
American Revolution. 2 v. Boston: Little,
Brown & Company, 1864.
Long out of print, this is still probably the
best work on the subject.
Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers
of New England, Showing Three Generations
of those Who Came Before May 1692, on
the basis of Farmer's Register. 4 v., 1860-62.
Baltimore: Reprinted with additions,
Genealogical Publishing Company, 1965.
The finest and most authoritative work in
the field of New England genealogical research.
Smith, Elsdon Coles
American Surnames. Philadelphia:
Chilton Books Company, 1969.
More comprehensive that Smith's earlier
dictionary, the material is grouped by type
rather than alphabetically.
Smith, Elsdon Coles
New Dictionary of American Family
Names. New York: Harper, 1973.
A fine source for locating the meanings
of more common surnames.
Society of Mayflower Descendants
Mayflower Index; rev. ed. of the two
volumes of the Mayflower Index comp.
by William A. McAnslan; rev. by Lewis
E. Neff. 3 v. in 2. Boston: 1960.
Sevenson, Noel C.
Search and Research, the Researchers
Handbook: A Guide to Official Records
and Library Sources. Rev. ed. Salt Lake
City: Desert Book Company, 1973.
The main part of the book is concerned
with locating books and records in individual
states. Under each state is a topical arrangement:
General Information Libraries; Historical
Societies and Archives; Research Suggestions;
Reference Books; Military Rosters, Rolls, and
Records; Official Records, including court and
probate records; Federal Census Records; State
Stewart, Robert A.
Index to Printed Virginia Genealogies
Including Key and Bibliography. With
added forward y John F. Dorman. 205 pp.
(1930). repr. Baltimore: 1970.
About 750 historical, biographical and
genealogical books are cited and 6,000
family names are listed, with more than
8,000 individual references.
Strassburger, Ralph Beaver
Pennsylvania German Pioneers; a
publication of the original lists of arrivals
in the port of Philadelphia from 1727-1808;
William J. Hinke, ed. 3 v. Philadelphia:
Reprint, 1934; Baltimore: Genealogical
Publishing Company, 1966, 2 v.
The most important source for researching
early Palatine families in the United States.
A Century of Population Growth from the
First Census of the United States to the
Twelfth, 1790-1900. Washington, D.C.:
Government Printing Office, 1909.
Good background material on population
changes: includes tables showing variants of
surnames and states in which they were predominant.
Also indicates boundary line changes in the various
United States. Bureau of the Census
Heads of Families at the First Census, 1790.
12 v., 1907-09. Baltimore: Reprint, Genealogical
Publishing Company, 1952-56; Spartanburg, S.C.:
Reprint Company, 1963-66.
The work lists by name for the first time all heads
of families in the United States in 1790.
United States. Census Office. 7th Census,
Index to the 1850 United States Federal Census
of Indiana, Bks. A-Z; comp. by Genealogy
Division, Indiana State Library. 16 v. Indianapolis:
State Library, n.d.
One of the most important sources for research in
Indiana, since 1850 is the first year that the census
lists each individual in the household by name.
Virkus, Frederick A.
The Compendium of American Genealogy. The
Standard Genealogical Encyclopedia of the First
Families of America. 7 v. illus. (1925-1942).
repr. Baltimore: 1968.
Wilkens, Cleo Goff, comp.
Index to the 1840 Federal Population Census
of Ohio; alphabetized by J. H. Wilkens. 4 v.
Fort Wayne: 1969-72.
Williams, Ethel W.
Know Your Ancestors, a Guide to Genealogical
Research. Rutland, Vt.: Charles E. Tuttle Company, 1960.
The primary purpose of this book is to acquaint
the reader with the principles of original research
in American Genealogy. An excellent guide, of wide
scope, including a dictionary of terms and abbreviations,
Wolf, Joseph C.
A Reference Guide for Genealogical and
Historical Research in Illinois. Detroit: Detroit
Society for Genealogical Research, 1963.
Back to Homepage