Back in 2017, we asked you to vote for your favorite genealogy books, and the results are in! After three weeks of voting, Family Tree Magazine readers collaborated on this Goodreads list of the best genealogy titles. Here are the top 10 best genealogy books to consider reading or gifting to your favorite family historian.
1. The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger
This comprehensive guide from The Genetic Genealogist Blaine T. Bettinger quickly became the golden standard for genetic genealogy. Bettinger walks you through the basics of DNA testing strategy, including how the various tests work and what you can do with your results. The book also boasts a helpful glossary of genetic genealogy terms. An updated, second edition was published in 2019.
2. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace by Elizabeth Shown Mills
This entry should come as no surprise to our readers, who have been using Mills’ book (now in its third edition) for decades. This tome (clocking in at more than 800 pages) details how to cite and analyze a variety of sources, from dusty family Bibles to digitized census records.
3. Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine T. Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne
Yes, Bettinger appears twice on this list! And for good reason—he’s an expert on the subject of DNA testing. He released this workbook, full of practical exercises to help you understand and utilize DNA testing, in conjunction with Debbie Parker Wayne and the National Genealogical Society.
Genealogy Guy Drew Smith shares great practical tips for organizing your research at every level, from brainstorming ideas and creating a productive workspace to sorting digital files.
5. How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott
Evernote, a notetaking app on a host of devices, continues to prove itself a powerful tool for genealogists. Scott breaks down the different files you can upload to Evernote, along with how to use its great organizational tools. She even has great suggestions for using Evernote in other areas of your life, including for keeping grocery lists and preserving your children’s artwork.
6. Mastering Genealogical Proof by Thomas W. Jones
This workbook, published by the National Genealogical Society, aims to help genealogists of all experience levels better interpret data and draw conclusions. Using real-life examples and records, Jones presents genealogical problems that allow readers to sharpen their research skills.
7. Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com: How to Find Your Family History on the No. 1 Genealogy Website by Nancy Hendrickson
Ancestry is the undisputed top dog in genealogy, boasting a huge collection of family trees and billions of digitized records. This book will help you sift through all the data to find your ancestors on the site. Hendrickson published a second, updated edition in 2018.
8. The Family Tree German Genealogy Guide: How to Trace Your Germanic Ancestry in Europe by James Beidler
Have German ancestors? You’re not alone—more than 44 million Americans can trace their ancestry back to Germany. This book shows you how to identify your immigrant ancestor and his hometown, then how to find records of him in the homeland. In addition, Beidler provides guides to German names, history and geography to take your research to the next level. Beidler has also written two follow-up titles: Trace Your German Roots Online and The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany.
9. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy edited by Lorretta Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking
Called “the genealogical bible” by some, this book provides detailed guides on the most important family records. In the book’s nearly 1,000 pages, you’ll learn basic genealogy research practices and strategies, and breakout chapters walk you through census records, directories and more. You’ll also read about how to research specific groups of ancestors, such as Colonial English and African American ancestors.
10. Ancestry’s Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources edited by Alice Eichholz
This genealogy standard, though more than a decade old, continues to provide quality information to researchers. The massive reference contains a list of county and towns in each US state, plus what records you can expect to find (and when).
Last updated, April 2020
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