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Beginner's Bookshelf
Turn the page in your family history with these 50 essential roots references.

For Starters

  • Abbreviations & Acronyms: A Guide for Family Historians by Kip Sperry (Ancestry). The terminology and language associated with genealogy can intimidate beginners. With this handy reference, you can quickly look up abbreviations, acronyms and other puzzling terms.
  • Cite Your Sources: A Manual for Documenting Family Histories and Genealogical Records by Richard S. Lackey (University Press of Mississippi). Documenting your genealogical sources is an important part of the research process. With chapters on citations, books, pamphlets, monographs and more, this book will properly instruct you.
  • Family History Made Easy by Loretto Dennis Szucs (Ancestry). This book shows you how to take the guesswork out of getting started in genealogy in an easy-to-follow format. Basic research tools and instructions are outlined.
  1.  First Steps in Genealogy: A Beginner's Guide to Researching Your Family History by Desmond Walls Allen (Betterway Books). From interviewing family members to searching the census, determining the reliability of sources to documenting findings and more, this book is a must-have for the beginner.
  • Genealogy Starter Kit, 2nd edition, by William Dollarhide (Genealogical Publishing Co.). One of the most concise guidebooks available at just 48 pages, this kit will soon have you on your way to researching your family's past. The book leads you through seven steps for getting started and includes a collection of forms for recording your ancestors' information.
  • Organizing Your Family History Search by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack (Betterway Books). Get rid of those scattered piles of research documents strewn across your desk. Learn to put your research in order with tips on creating a flexible filing system and streamlining your organization process.
  • Reading Early American Handwriting by Kip Sperry (Genealogical Publishing Co.). Deciphering handwriting in old records can be a challenge. Sperry leads you through techniques for reading documents, interpreting letter forms, understanding abbreviations and tackling tricky terminology.
  • The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingalls (Macmillan). Beginning genealogy research can be an overwhelming undertaking. The authors' simple instructions will help you battle brick walls that beginners face.
  • The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk (Betterway Books). Get the answers to more than 150 common questions beginners ask. Topics covered include vital records, church records, census records, city directories, newspapers and more.
  • The Sleuth Book for Genealogists by Emily Anne Croom (Betterway Books). Become a genealogy detective with unique approaches and methods for solving research problems. Case studies and a documentation guide round out this helpful resource.
  • Unpuzzling Your Past, 4th edition, by Emily Anne Croom (Betterway Books). This best-selling guide takes you on a step-by-step journey into discovering your family's past. The strategies for success, tips and charts provide help along the way.

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