AncestorNews: Back-to-Basics Books
9/27/2009

I wish I could say I know everything there is to know about genealogy, but it just isn't so. Like many people, I routinely run into genealogical subjects that send me running for a reference book. The good news is that lots of great books are out there.

I recently had the opportunity to read Emily Anne Croom's Unpuzzling Your Past (Betterway Books, $18.99). Although I've been tracing my family tree since I was a kid, I found information in this book that reminded me of the basics I sometimes forget. For example, Croom's chapter on local sources was filled with ideas for off-line research. These included local genealogical publications, elders in the community, school records, church registers, tax rolls, courthouse records and funeral home files. Because I do so much work on the Internet, I often forget to check out such sources.

Another helpful book (which I've used so often it's falling apart) is William Dollarhide's Map Guide to American Migration Routes, 1735-1815 (Heritage Quest, $12.95). This little book (it's only about 40 pages) is chock-full of information on the roads and trails of American pioneers. It's divided into sections on Colonial roads to 1750, Colonial roads from 1750 to 1775, roads to the Ohio country and roads to the Southwest. Each section contains text about who might have used those roads (and why) and includes maps that depict the roads. Whenever I am trying to figure out where a branch of the family might have gone, I pull out this book and look at the most-used roads of the time.

Although I'm an Internet junkie, there are times when nothing beats the information found in a good old-fashioned book.

Other favorites include:

Your Guide to the Federal Census by Kathleen W. Hinckley (Betterway Books, $21.99)

Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books, $17.99)

The Handybook for Genealogists edited by George B. Everton (Everton Publishers, $34.99)

The Research Guide to American Genealogy by Val Greenwood (Genealogical Publishing Co., $29.95)