Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Create Your Own Reference Library - Part 1

Whether or not we realize it, we all create our own little "reference libraries."  For instance, most cooks have a drawer or shelf of recipe books/cards; a mechanic might have repair manuals and measurement guides; we all have telephone books, a dictionary/thesaurus, and perhaps directories of local & regional government.

Family Historians over time also develop a Reference Library.  This can be in the form of books, microfiche or microfilm, articles, and online resources.  Despite the advantages of online information, it's very useful to have a core group of reference books near your computer or your designated genealogy den.  I have the internet at my fingertips almost 24/7, but still find it necessary to maintain some "ready to grab" items.  If you have it in your budget (and these make great suggestions for Christmas gifts) to acquire a few items, I would suggest the following general family history references:
  1.  The Source : a guidebook of American Genealogy, edited by Loretto Szucs and Sandra Luebking
Three editions of this one are available, but try to get the 3rd edition.  If you acquire no other book for your personal library, make sure you get this one.  It is the best, under one cover, genealogical reference on the market.  

     2.  Evidence Explained : citing history sources from artifacts to cyberspace, by Elizabeth Shown Mills

At some point, you will need to either present or interpret source citations, and this book addresses every conceivable type of genealogical source.   And, because it does that, it doubles as a great checklist of record types...

    3.  Red Book : American state, county, and town sources, edited by Alice Eichholz

There have also been three editions of this one, again try to get the 3rd edition.  Each of the 50 states has a chapter and in the introduction for each is state-wide information regarding vital & census records, maps, land & probate, other court & tax records, cemeteries, church records, and military.  This is followed by a listings of periodicals & manuscript collections, libraries & archives, societies, and special focus groups. 

A map of each state is included showing & naming each county/county seat.  The meat of each chapter is a county-by-county listing indicating when each was formed, and the beginning dates for birth, marriage, death, land, probate & court records...a great resource for determining the existence of resources.

    4.  Concise Genealogical Dictionary, compiled     
          by Maurine and Glen Harris

    5.  What Did They Mean By That and More What Did They Mean By That
          by Paul Drake

All three of these are necessary to decipher those antiquated terms and phrases that we encounter in our ancestral documents.

Enough on the books for now.  In Part 2, we will discuss how to collect and organize those little sniplets of information we pick up from smaller resources into a personal filing system. 

Nameless Picture of the Day

 unidentified residence, Sturgis
"Mrs. Laura Hickman" written on the reverse
Can you identify the house or people in this photo reportedly taken in Sturgis, Michigan?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.