The Source: One of My Favorite Genealogy Textbooks

A while back, I read a short review about Val Greenwood’s classic The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, published in 1972 and now in its third edition. This was one of the first genealogy books I owned and I bought it back when there was only the first edition.

During the intervening 40+ years that have passed since then, a number of top notch what I would call genealogy textbooks have been published. One, however, has always felt like a warm, comfy blanket to me. It is chock full of timeless information of use to both beginners and more advanced researchers and I would say only the one chapter on computers and technology is likely to become very outdated, simply because it does talk about ever-changing technology.

So which book is this? It’s The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, also in its third edition, currently edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, last published by Ancestry in 2006. I have actually owned all three editions of this book through the years. I believe the book may be out of print, but copies can be found on line for about $35.00.

Each of the chapters is authored by an expert in the field. I particularly like the People and Place section, as many family historians are looking for their own ethnic roots.

Here is what is covered:

The Basics

1. The Foundations of Family History Research
2. Computers and Technology
3. General References and Guides

The Records

4. Business, Institution, and Organization Records
5. Census Records
6. Church Records
7. Court Records
8. Directories
9. Immigration Records
10. Land Records
11. Military Records
12. Newspapers
13. Vital Records

People and Place

14. African American Research
15. Colonial English Research
16. Colonial Spanish Borderland Research
17. Hispanic Research
18. Jewish American Research
19. Native American Research
20. Urban Research

Appendixes

A. Abbreviations and Acronyms
B. Family Associations
C. Genealogical Societies
D. Hereditary and Lineage Organizations
E. Historical Societies
F. The LDS Family History Library
G. The National Archives and its Regions
H. State Archives

If I only had five basic genealogy books in my personal library, The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy would be one of them.

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