Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday book gift list for New England Genealogists

This is the time of the year when people ask me to recommend good gift books for the genealogists in their families or on their gift list. What a difficult question!  Everyone’s family is different, and so everyone’s book requirements are different. But if you have New England colonial ancestry, these are some of my favorite books. They just might become favorite books for the genealogist on your gift list.

Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 2nd edition, 2009

Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, by Michael Leclerc, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 5th Edition, 2012

A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, by David Lambert, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2nd edition, 2009.

New Englanders in the 1600s: A Guide to Genealogical Research Published Between 1980 and 2010 (Expanded Edition), by Martin Hollick, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012

Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire, by Noyes, Libby and Davis, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2011.

The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620 – 1633  (three volumes), and, The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634 -1635 (seven volumes), by Anderson, New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Nutfield, New Hampshire Favorites:

History of Londonderry, By Rev. E. L. Parker, 1851.  This book is out of print, but widely available in used book stores and online book shops.  It is also available to read online at but there is nothing like having this good reference book right at your elbow.

Index to Genealogies in New Hampshire Town Histories, by William Copely, New Hampshire Historical Society, 2000. This is my favorite place to look up surnames from New Hampshire.

Nutfield Rambles, by Richard Holmes, Peter Randall Publisher, 2007

The Road to Derry:  A Brief History, by Richard Holmes,  History Press, 2009. 

Mayflower Favorites:

Here I Shall Die Ashore: Stephen Hopkins: Bermuda Castaway, Jamestown Survivor and Mayflower Pilgrim, by Caleb Johnson, Xlibris Publishing, 2007.  This is the story of my favorite Pilgrim, Stephen Hopkins, who led an adventurous life worthy of a Hollywood action movie.

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick, Penguin Books, 2007.  The history of the Pilgrims and the first fifty five years of the Plymouth Colony.  This book the relationship between the Wampanoags and the English settlers, right up to King Phillip’s War.

Mayflower Bastard: A Stranger Among the Pilgrims, by David Lindsay, St. Martin’s Griffin, 2004.  The story of five year old Richard More, illegitimate son of a father who put his four children (all under age seven) on board the Mayflower as indentured servants.

Of Plymouth Plantation, by William Bradford, edited by Caleb Johnson, Xlibris Publishing, 2006.   William Bradford’s first hand history of the Plymouth Colony, newly revised and edited by Caleb Johnson with footnotes, photos and illustrations.

Pilgrim Migration: Immigrants to Plymouth Colony 1620 - 1633, by Robert Charles Anderson, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2007.  More than 200 sketches of families or individuals who resided in the Plymouth Colony before 1633. 

Strangers and Pilgrims, Travellers and Sojourners, by Jeremy Dupertuis Bangs, The General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 2009.  This is the comprehensive history by Dr. Bangs, who has lived in Leiden, Netherlands for 30 years researching the Pilgrims. 

The Times of Their Lives: Life, Love and Death in Plymouth Colony, by James Deetz & Patricia Scott Deetz, anchor Publishing, 2001.  James Deetz is an anthropologist specializing in colonial history, and his wife is a historian.  In this book they describe the Pilgrims as they really were- humans who were hard drinking, adulterous, and committed petty and serious crimes.  This is not the history you heard in grade school!

Just for Fun:

Ancestors of American Presidents, by Gary Boyd Roberts, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2009- 2nd edition was updated to include Barack Obama and new information about previous presidents.  Includes 160 charts and a comprehensive index. 

Becky, Grandmother of New Hampshire: An Historical Novel, by Alice Clark Haubrich, 1966.  Out of print but easily found in used bookstores  and antique shops around New England and online at places like and in libraries.  Contains twelve pages of genealogy and charts from some of New Hampshire’s earliest colonial families.   

Roots: The Saga of an American Family, by Alex Haley, 1976, still printed and available everywhere.  This is the classic novel that got me started in genealogy, and is being rediscovered by new genealogists.  The story has been disproved, but it is still a fantastic read.

Slaves in the Family, by Edward Ball, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014.  This book is being reprinted again as a reissue with a new preface by the author.  It is the story of Ball’s efforts to track down and meet the descendants of his family’s slaves in South Carolina.

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science that Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry, by Bryan Sykes, W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.  The story of Dr. Sykes's early studies of European DNA which found that 90 percent of Europeans descend from seven women who lived 40,000 to 10,000 years ago.

The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell, Riverhead Publishing, 2008 – This book was on the New York Times Bestseller list, it is a humorous, irreverent look at the Puritans, especially John Winthrop.

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Copyright © 2014, Heather Wilkinson Rojo

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