Monday, September 15, 2008

The Indispensable Bookshelf

It is truly embarrassing to have to admit this, but I do not have 10 genealogy-specific reference books on my bookshelf! Gasp! It's true though. It was (is) easier, and much cheaper, to go to the library (especially when I was living in the genealogy-Mecca of the Midwest, Fort Wayne). So I'd guess you could say, if it's on my genea-resource bookshelf I consider it indispensable to research!

The Handy Book for Genealogists, Everton Publishers. This book has been essential to my research. It is one of the few books kept on my computer desk. Although the edition I have was published in 1991, it still meets my needs for finding out when a county was organized, the parent county, and the basic information. I no longer rely on the current addresses and contact information for the counties and states, but a quick check on the internet will usually give me that information.

Map Guide to the U. S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920, William Thorndale and William Dollarhide, Genealogical Publishing Company. The edition I have was published in 1995 but is still useful today. It too is kept on my computer desk for quick reference. You can read all about boundary changes for counties, and think you understand, but the maps allow you to see the changes visually. It really brings home why great-great-grandpa was enumerated in three different counties during his lifetime even though he never moved from the original homestead!

Uncovering Your Ancestry through Family Photographs, Maureen Taylor, Betterway Books, 2000. Maureen's tips and sources for helping to identify the time period of a photograph are invaluable.

Organizing Your Family History Search, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Betterway Books, 2000. If I would have had this book when I first started my research, maybe I'd be organized by now! Of course, just having the book doesn't get you organized, you have to follow at least some of the suggestions! Not only does Sharon provide you with a multitude of tips for organizing your files at home but provides tips for organizing a research trip. She doesn't tell you the "best way" to organization, because people are different, instead she provides several options.

Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1997. Sourcing is a big deal in genealogy and family history research, to say the least. I have (almost) always identified in some way where my information came from, just not in the acceptable or "proper" manner. I blame that on the software that I started out with way back when - when sources were entered as notes. I've made a little headway in correcting that but I much prefer to do research! Again, if I'd had this book in my early days it "might" have made a difference.

A few years ago I purchased The Writer's Guide to Everyday Life in the 1800s, Marc McCutcheon, Writer's Digest Books, 1993. It hasn't really been used very much in my genealogy research but I have referred to it from time to time to lookup the meaning of an old term or phrase. It is essentially a dictionary of terms and phrases used in the 1800s. It was one of those impulse purchases at some historical site but someday I hope to use it in writing the history of another of my families.

My most recent acquisition was at the 2006 NGS Conference in Chicago with the newly released The Source : A Guidebook to American Genealogy (Third Edition) Edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking. This 900+ page volume is chock full of "good stuff" with articles from a multitude of authors discussing the various topics.

Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, The World Publishing Company, 1970. Given to me by a friend while I was in the Navy, this book has been around the World! Well, at least to Iceland and Japan as well as more than a few of these United States. It too is kept on my computer desk. Yes, I know you can go online to find the definition of anything but I enjoy flipping through the pages.

Road Atlas, Rand McNally, 1964. Yes, 1964! In nearly pristine condition, by the way. It was in a box of some of my grandfather's things that was given to me after his death in 1991. It doesn't leave the house but has seen occasional use when looking for some small town that has disappeared off of today's maps.

The World Wide Web and The Internet. It's not a book but it contains billions of words. It doesn't reside on my bookshelf but it is on my computer desk and, as such, almost always at my fingertips! In this day and age, it is truly an indispensable resource!

Contributed to the 56th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy :: 10 essential books in my genealogy library.

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