Ten books to get you off on the right foot in finding your roots.
1. The Idiot's Guide to Genealogy by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingalls (Alpha Books). This best-selling how-to genealogy book is perfect for beginners. If you've been wondering how to get started climbing your family tree, Rose and Ingalls will guide you along with easy-to-follow instructions. Written by two highly respected professional genealogists, The Idiot's Guide to Genealogy will get you started on the right path.
2. Unpuzzling Your Past: A Basic Guide to Genealogy, 3d ed., (Betterway) and The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook: Essential Forms and Letters for All Genealogists, (Betterway), both by Emily Croom. Genealogists love forms to help them organize all of the data they collect on ancestors, and a big part of genealogy is letter-writing to obtain records and family information, since most people don't live where their ancestors did. Between these two guides, you'll have everything you need to get started on your genealogy and to keep track of your research.
3. First Steps in Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide to Researching Your Family History by Desmond Walls Allen (Betterway). Need a simple, quick-to-read, easy-to-follow guide that will give you the basics? Allen's book is the one for you. Not only will it show you how to get started, but there are interesting case studies to illustrate use of the sources available for research.
4. Finding a Place Called Home: A Guide to African-American Genealogy and Historical Identity by Dee Parmer Woodtor (Random House). In this excellent guide to African-American family history research, Woodtor teaches readers how to begin the step-by-step process of searching for your roots, including how to sidestep the roadblocks common to black genealogy research. She also shares case studies of other African-American researchers and how they discovered their heritage.
5. The Everything Family Tree Book: Finding, Charting, and Preserving Your Family History by William G. Hartley (Adams Media Corp.). In this beginner's guide, Hartley not only addresses records available for research, but gives thorough advice on conducting oral history interviews, writing autobiographies, writing and publishing your family history, and ideas for preserving treasured heirlooms. There are also sections on research for those who are adopted and for those of African-American or Native American heritage.
6. Instant Information on the Internet: A Genealogist's No-Frills Guide to the 50 States & The District of Columbia by Christina K. Schaefer (Genealogical Publishing Co.). This guide is designed to help researchers find the most important genealogy sites on the Internet, giving addresses of the best Web sites for genealogy in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. It's organized by state, and will help you pinpoint where information can be found on the Internet.
7. Genealogy Software Guide by Marthe Arends (Genealogical Publishing Co.). This is the guide genealogists have been waiting for. There are many genealogy software packages available, but which one is suited to you? Marthe Arends details the features of genealogical software programs and shows examples of printouts. A must for deciding which software to buy.
8. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy, new revised ed., edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Ancestry). Don't let the price scare you. This is a classic in the field of genealogy and on every genealogist's bookshelf. Need to know more about researching land or courthouse records? This massive book will give you an in-depth look at each record source, from those that are commonly used to those that are more obscure.
9. Netting Your Ancestors: Genealogical Research on the Internet by Cyndi Howells (Genealogical Publishing Co.). Cyndi Howells is the creator and webmaster of Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet, the most popular genealogy Web site guide. Her Netting Your Ancestors book is designed to explain how to take maximum advantage of the Internet in genealogical research. If you're hesitant about entering the overwhelming World Wide Web of genealogy, Cyndi can guide you through it.
10. The Handybook for Genealogists, 9th ed., (Everton Publishers). Another classic in the field of genealogy that has a spot on every genealogist's bookshelf. The Handybook has been published since 1947 and is one of the most popular guides for tracking down addresses of record repositories. State profiles cover history, sources, maps showing county borders, and the custodians of the records you seek.