Category Archives: Genealogy Reference Library

Tips for Locating Rare Books for Genealogy Research

Today, I’ll share some quick tips for locating and/or purchasing hard-to-find genealogy books that you’d either like to read or actually add a hard copy to your home reference library.

Where can that elusive book be found?

Absolutely, my first online stop is the FamilySearch catalog, hoping that there might be a digital version available of the book.

My second stop would be Internet Archive, hoping for the same result, but I have no success.

Next, I would stop and pause before continuing my search. The publication date of the book might be the issue, as it might still be under copyright restrictions.

My third website visit would be WorldCat. Now, to choose an example that will illustrate the rest of these tips, let’s say I would love to read and/or even own a copy of Passamaquoddy – Genealogies of West Isle Families, by Martha Ford Barto and published in New Brunswick, Canada in 1975. My mother’s family has lots of early Passamaquoddy area ancestors.

WorldCat has this entry:

Notice that I will be able to view all formats and editions, but the left arrow indicates that the book is available as an eBook, too.

Choosing the eBook icon opens a list of libraries who have a copy of the book and a list of the distances from me (in Tucson) to each of the libraries.

Using this option didn’t readily allow me to find the eBook. I had more success choosing the link on the right to View All Formats and Editions:

Choosing the eBook version prompted me to use a free access button to the Mesa, Arizona Family History Center.

Where Can I Buy a Copy of the Elusive Book?

Purchasing a hard-to-find book might be difficult for two reasons. First, rare books might be somewhat expensive. Second, there may not be copies floating around to be bought. However, there are several websites to check:

  • Amazon – I don’t usually have much success here and didn’t find Barto’s book
  • Abe Books – I have had some success here, as they seem to carry more scholarly type books and this book is available for $135.00
  • AddALL – Barto’s book is available for $135.00+
  • BookFinder – The book is listed for $189.68+
  • viaLibri – The book is listed for $135.00+

Thankfully, I own this book, having purchased it about 1980, when I first started my family history research. However, if I didn’t own it and really wanted to read it, I know there is one eBook option available and I know which libraries have a hard copy available.

I have also learned that, if I really wanted to own a copy of this book, I’d have to be prepared to pay $135.00 for it. Not cheap, by any means, but copies are available for sale, so purchasing is an (expensive) option.

If you are looking for a specific book, hoping to access it from home, locate a copy to read or buy the book, these links should help you determine how rare your book is and where, if anyplace, it is available to be bought.

Good luck with your searches!

Summer Reading from the Genealogy Bookshelf

DISCLAIMER: In the past, I have received complimentary copies of some of the books on this list, but my recommendations are not influenced in any way by that. These are all books I’ve truly enjoyed reading.

We are now well into summer and the hot weather has settled in for the duration here in Tucson. It’s time to get busy catching up on some reading and I thought I’d make some recommendations and suggestions for books you might want to read, too

If you haven’t ever read Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America by David Hackett Fischer, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Any serious genealogist needs to understand the settling and populating of of America to get a better understanding of the social customs and cultural influences in the regions where their own ancestors lived.

A book that is similar to Albion’s Seed is Lloyd de Witt Bockstruck’s American Settlements and Migrations: A Primer for Genealogists and Family Historians. It is a much smaller book and is a great companion piece to Albion’s Seed.

Another book I’d recommend is Val Greenwood’s 4th Edition of The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. Whether you are a beginning researcher or an experienced genealogist, there is always something new to learn out there and Greenwood’s book will do just that.

One more heavy reading classic I’d recommend is The Source by Loretto Dennis Szucs. It’s another one of those books that offers new tips and ideas to pursue in your research and is one of my all time favorites.

A much newer, excellent book is Research Like a Pro by Diana Elder and Nicole Dyer. The title says it all. The book is a straightforward approach to sound genealogical researching.

If you are just beginning to test the DNA waters and would like to learn more about the topic, Blaine T. Bettinger’s book, The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy is a great place to start.

Summertime is a time for relaxation and enjoyment, too, so I have a few much lighter reading suggestions. Marc McCutcheon’s Everyday Life in the 1800s: A Guide for Writers, Students & Historians is a book that will teach you a lot about life in the 19th century, but it’s a fun read.

Elizabeth Shown Mills and Ruth Brossette Lennon teamed up for Tips & Quips for the Family Historian.  I won a copy of this book at my local genealogical society meeting and loved it!

Last, but definitely not least, if you like genealogy AND mysteries, have I got the author for you! Nathan Dylan Goodwin writes the best genealogical mysteries, starring forensic genealogist Morton Farrier. I met him at last year’s RootsTech and I am totally hooked on his stories.

Just a few of the Morton Farrier mysteries

A final suggestion – if magazine reading better fits your summer style, but you’d like to keep up with genealogy news, visit your local bookstore (down the street or online) to pick up the latest issues of Family Tree Magazine or Internet Genealogy Magazine:

Now, sit back, relax and start reading!




These Are a Few of My Favorite (Genealogy) Things

The Sound of Music is definitely a classic, as is Julie Andrews singing These Are a Few of My Favorite Things. One can have all sorts of favorites lists, but mine revolves around family history. How about you?

Do you have a list of favorite genealogy things? If you are like me, the list likely changes over time, depending on current research goals.

I’m always quite enamored with certain books, collections and websites. Here are some of my favorite things, related to genealogy and family history, for summer 2018. Aside from great collections that aid my family research, items on my list have to enrich my knowledge.

  1. Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fischer – I originally bought this book to be able to follow DearMyrtle’s Study Group. I love this book and learned so much about all the folkways brought by immigrants to different areas of the colonies. Albion’s Seed is an absolute essential read for anyone serious about understanding their ancestors’ lives in the context of their times.
  2. Genealogy News Bytes by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings – I follow a lot of blogs, but there are always interesting reads on Randy’s list, which he publishes a couple of times each week.
  3. The Researcher’s Guide to American Research, 4th Edition by Val Greenwood – This new edition of Greenwood’s book will become the new classic reference book for American genealogical research. There is something to be learned in each chapter for everyone from total newbies to seasoned researchers.
  4. FamilySearch collections covering New York land deeds and probate records – I have a few lines that lived in New York for a period of time and I’ve always considered New York as an expensive black hole. If you don’t regularly browse FamilySearch unindexed collections, you are missing out on primary records sitting at your fingertips. Even if a collection hasn’t been indexed, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the resource has no index. Just like in the old days, you have to open the (digital) deed book (or whatever record it is) and check the front and back of the book for the index. Some records are truly without any kind of index, but I have found that most collections have them.
  5. Nantucket Historical Association – The NHA has a great website with online collections. It is on my current favorite list because I’ve been researching my Nantucket families. I had never heard of it before a reference librarian at the New England Historic Genealogical Society tipped me off to it.
  6. Vita Brevis – This is the blog for The New England Historic Genealogical Society. Although I was generally aware of it, having been a member of NEHGS for many years, I never paid much attention to it because I thought it probably promoted a lot of the society’s products and events. However, what I’ve found are some of the most interesting family stories ever!
  7. Amy Cohen is my overall favorite family story teller and she is the author of Brotmanblog: A Family Journey. She adds so much depth to already interesting stories that she continually amazes me. I also envy all the newspaper stories she is able to locate, as my most recent family lines lived in two of the states with the least amount of digitized papers – New Jersey and Maine.
  8. MyHeritage and the Ellis Island and Other New York Passenger Lists 1820-1957. I used to love the Ellis Island website, but hated to have to try to use it after the redesigned the site. MyHeritage has expanded the collection of records and is my “go to” site for these records. I’ve had so much more success with their collection!
  9. History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Time Lines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors by Judy Jacobson – The last book on my current is ties in with Albion’s Seed, historical and political events can be seen at a glance when piecing together our ancestors’ stories. It’s a great reference book.
  10. Last on my summer list has to be EBay. I’ve blogged about my finds more than a few times, but I love searching for unique, or at least hard to find in a shop, items that tie into my family history. I’ve found teaspoons engraved with the Stufflebean name, china pieces to add to my rare pattern of Theodore Haviland family china, and POSTCARDS! I love vintage postcards and have built up quite a collection.

What’s on your current favorites list and why?

Disclaimer: I received complimentary copies of The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy 4th Edition and History for Genealogists: Using Chronological Timelines to Find and Understand Your Ancestors, but that has not influenced my opinion about them! They are both excellent books.