What genealogy books do you keep close by when researching? Explore these must have genealogy books for your genealogy research.
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Want To Take a Peek at My Genealogy Bookshelf?

What genealogy books do you keep close by when researching? Peek at my bookshelf and explore these must have genealogy books for your genealogy research. You might just find your new favorite!

Moving a couple of years ago resulted in an actual office for me. Before that, my office was the kitchen table. (Anyone else?) Along with a new office came new bookcases! As a book lover I couldn’t be happier.  Now all of my must have genealogy books could be right beside me as I research.

[That gets it’s own genealogy happy dance!]

Just what do I have on my genealogy bookshelves? Thought you would never ask…..

Genealogy Books to Add To Your Bookshelf!

Do you have a favorite genealogy book you use  in your research? Click through and see mt favorite resource books I use when searching for my ancestors. #genealogy #books #familyhistory
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Do you ever find yourself on a zoom call  trying to read the book titles in the bookshelf behind the speaker?  I’m definitely guilty of being distracted but bookcase in the background. I want to know what others are reading and find some book suggestions.

Fun fact: That’s one of the reasons I don’t usually make videos in front of my bookcase anymore . 😀

That’s also why today, I’m sharing my my genealogy bookshelf with you!

And One More Must Have Genealogy Book!

If you are new to using Ancestry.com, I recommend Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com by Nancy Hendrickson.  I’ve seen this at my local library, so check there first if you are interested. I like to read guides such as this one to make sure I am utilizing a paid subscription site to its fullest. In other words, let’s make sure we are getting the most benefit for our money!

Unofficial Guide to Ancestry.com

Genealogy Pro Tip: Check what resources and reference books are available for the regions you research in.  These might pertain to a state or a local region. For example, New York researchers would want to check out New York Family History Research Guide and Gazeteer .

Second floor of rounded bookcases at a library. Railing on left.

Interested In Becoming a Professional Genealogist?

Professional Genealogy: Preparation, Practice & Standards by Elizabeth Shown Mills was met with a lot of excitement in the genealogy world.  I have this one on my bookshelf! If you are ready to take on genealogy research clients of your own or think you might in the future, I highly recommend this one. 

Use Genealogy Books for Social Context and Understanding Our Ancestors’ Lives

Understanding your ancestor’s life and the records he/she generated often requires understanding the the period of history and community they lived in.

  • What was important to your ancestors and the community they lived in?
  • What were their customs and general practices?
  • What influenced their decisions on big and small issues?

One of my all time favorite books is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. [This was my daughter’s university summer reading her freshman year.] Henrietta Lacks was originally from Halifax County, VA and the author explored and documented the Lacks family and the South Boston, VA area.

Bonus: Skloot recorded her references and sources in the Notes section at the end of the book which led me to more resources on southern VA and the community where my ancestors lived.

Not only did I gain a better understanding of the social issues for Halifax County, I found new-to-me resources pertinent to my own research at the Notes of the book!

What does this mean for you the genealogy researcher?

Seek out books about the area your ancestors lived in. Soak in the social context the book provides for you ancestors AND check the notes and references at the end! I’ve put a few of mine in the ☝list above. ☝

Other Articles of Interest!

Keep the Learning Going!

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  • Janice Harshbarger

    Your comment about reading social history books is spot on, and also the clue to look at the notes and bibliography of the non-fiction books we are reading. I concentrate on reading books about my family, or at least about the geographic locale of my family, and have learned so much from both the social histories and the notes and bibliographies. Social history brings life to our ancestors and helps us more easily put ourselves in their shoes. All genealogy reading is good, right?

    • LisaL

      Yes, all genealogy reading is good! I’m so happy to hear you read for social history context and use the clues from the notes, too. It’s a great way to find lesser known, but important resources.

  • Janet

    Loved the video! I wrote down several titles for my wishlist. Can you possibly recommend any books that would help me with a Huguenot ancestor?
    Thanks for your help!


  • Susan (Jusko) McAloon

    Dear Lisa,
    I follow your emails. I have a question no one will help me with. I located my paternal grandfather’s family in Bratislav,Cachtice Slovakia. My contact must have died, haven’t heard from that family member. I don’t speak Slovak. My delema is connecting my grandfather to his first cousin. Michael Vido BD 1884 his father’s name was Jan Vido and Jan’s father’s name was Jurg Vido. The first cousin’s name was Anna Vido BD 1894,1895 or 1896. These are various birth dates from records in the states. She too was from cachtice,Slovakia. The Consulate General of Slovakia in New York sent me 1894,1895 & 1896 birth certificates with parents names. I know in order to be a first cousin they would have to have the same grandfather. Immigration or records here do not mention her parent’s names. How can I research to locate an answer. I appreciate your help or advice.

  • Suzanne G McClendon

    Thank you for this post! I love to know what is on the bookshelves of my favorite genealogists. I am definitely one checking out the bookshelves in the videos. 🙂

    I have some of the books that you’ve mentioned, and quite a few others. One that is on my list of books to get is Nancy Hendrickson’s book.

    One of my favorite series of books is the Notable Southern Families series. I only have a few volumes at this point, but I’ve found quite a bit of information on one of my mother’s lines.

    Now, to just find the time to read them all. 🙂

  • Merry Martin Donati

    Lisa I have to tell you, I love your lessons. I have not had updates in my mail lately and while checking some of my Pinterest I was reminded how much I miss reading and viewing your lessons. Thank you for helping get focus again on my research. Merry

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