Basic Genealogy Resources Help Beginners Avoid Mistakes

October 26, 2011 at 1:07 am | Posted in Genealogy Reference Books | 1 Comment
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The Source A Guidebook for American Genealogy Research

The Source A Guidebook for American Genealogy Research

I’ve been doing genealogy for about 12 years.  I’ve made every mistake in the book – twice!  You can’t imagine how excited I was when after YEARS of fumbling around I found these resources – now available at most libraries and FREE online.

Don’t walk – run – to the nearest Internet connection or library to put your hands on these before picking up the next ancestor’s trail.

Three basic reference guides designed to answer – what records are out there, what will I find in them, and where are they – are first-reach resources for any genealogist.

The Handybook for Genealogists

This resource organized geographically (state, then county) helps you quickly identify which records are held by each county and the type of information within each record type.  Note: it also contains an historical timeline of each county helping you find the right county repository for the time frame in question.

In addition to the county information, for each state it offers:

  • A brief history of the state
  • Information on vital records held at the state level
  • A list of societies and repositories in each state
  • An extensive bibliography of publications

 The Red Book

This book is arranged alphabetically by state.  The first section within each chapter is dedicated to a brief history of the state.  Then the material is arranged by topic of research and the arrangement is consistent state to state.  Each topic discusses sources, websites, repositories and types of records available.  Topics include vital records, military, societies, land records, probate, etc.  The book includes a very clean, reproducible map of the state with counties & county seats identified.  Each chapter may have a section dedicated to “Special Focus,” where resources and/or repositories unique to that state are discussed.

Now available for FREE on in the Learning Center > Family Search Wiki

 The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

Designed as an all-in-one guide to genealogy – both a reference and a tutorial – this book is instructional at any level of genealogy expertise.

The opening three chapters focus on the basics of genealogy research.  They teach or remind us of good methodology to save time and be more successful.  Published and written by, the book has an understandable bent toward internet research and the resources found at

Nonetheless, the balance of the book is segmented by record type and begins with foundational research for your family tree and – census, church records, vital records.  As you advance, you can turn to chapters on land, court records and military research.  Additionally, the genealogist will find chapters targeted to the specifics of particular ethnic research, i.e. Native American, Jewish, or African Americcan.

Now available for FREE on in the Learning Center > Family Search Wiki


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  1. […] any assistance I can find is most welcome. To that end, you may have seen my blog posts on The Source, The Family Tree Problem Solver, and on maps in The Red Book.  All of these are excellent […]

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