Five Books for Your Reference Shelf

Despite the easy availability of information, good genealogists know that sometimes old school books are still the best way to learn and get information. Here are five books that deserve a prominent place on every genealogist’s reference bookshelf.

Elements of Genealogical Analysis
Robert Charles Anderson, FASG
(Boston: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2014)

Thirty years in the making, this book is an inside look into the strict research methodology used by those involved in the Great Migration Study Project, the scholarly project to document the origins of this group of seventeenth-century immigrants to New England. The first section is devoted to analytical tools for sources, records, and linkages. The second section discusses the problem-solving sequence from problem selection to problem resolution.

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing
Anthony Brundage
(Malden, Mass.: John Wiley & Sons, 2013)

First published in 1989, this work is a great introduction to the process of historical research. While it focuses on the study of history, the skills are also applicable to genealogy. And good genealogists know that history is a major component of our research. It is brief, only 7 chapters and 5 appendixes in 176 pages.

Money & Exchange in Europe and America, 1600–1775
John J. McCusker
(Williamsburg, Va.: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1978)

In modern America, our currency is guaranteed by the federal government. This has not always been the case, however, especially in the colonial era. Terms like bills of credit; pounds, shillings, and pence; sterling; old tenor; current tenor; Proclamation Money; Lawful Money and more are often found in the documents we use in genealogy. But do you truly understand what each of these terms mean? And how money in the colonies was linked to money in countries around the world? McCusker does an excellent job of explaining money and the way it was used in simple terms that can provide a greater understanding of your ancestors’ lives.

Locating Your Roots: Discover Your Ancestors Using Land Records
Patricia Law Hatcher, FASG, FGSP
(Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2016)

This work is an excellent resource for understanding the records left behind by your ancestors concerning their real estate. Whether the ancestors lived in state-land states or public-land states, this book will help you find the records and show you how to interpret them to get the most information from them. Originally published in 2003 by Betterway Books and long out of print, it has been reissued by the Genealogical Publishing Company. Although not a complete revision, it has been reviewed for obsolete references and information which has been either updated or deleted.

Women and the Law of PropertyWomen and the Law of Property in Early America
Marylynn Salmon
(Chapel Hill, N.Carol.: University of North Carolina, 1986)

Researching women can be one of the most challenging aspects of research for American genealogists. Could women own property? Could they sign contracts? What happened to their property when they were widowed? What about unmarried women? Salmon cuts through the misinformation and explains what the real implications were based on the law, and how that can impact your ancestral research.

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