Monday, July 20, 2015

My Top Ten Genealogy Books

In 2011 I posted the top 8 genealogy books I use most of the time when research, writing and blogging. You can read that link here:   

It’s time for an update!  Some of those same books from 2011 are still among my most used books, and some are new or updated versions.  What books are your most favorite genealogy books?  Which books do you use the most?

Remember, my genealogy is focused on New England.  This is a list of the books I find the useful, and you might, too, if you have ancestors in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

The Great Migration Series

1. The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620 – 1633, Three volumes, by Robert Charles Anderson, 1996.  These books list over 900 New England families with sketches on their origins, arrivals in New England, family records, and more.  I use both the online version (good for searching digitally) and the bound books on my bookshelf. I reach for these books several times a week, and for most of my "Surname Saturday" blog posts.

2.  The Great Migration: Immigrants to New England 1634-1635, Seven volumes, by Robert Charles Anderson, 2011.  A follow up to The Great Migration Begins.  (see above)

3.  Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, by Michael J. LeClerc, 5th edition, 2012.  This book needs an update for 2015, but it is still well used.  I just keep crossing out and penciling in changes in addresses, phone numbers and URLs.   This guide book will help you locate public records, archives, libraries, genealogical societies and libraries in New England.  There are maps, state information, and more.  I’ve owned many of these editions over the years and they are invaluable for New England research. 

Index to Genealogies in
New Hampshire Town Histories

4. Index to Genealogies in New Hampshire Town Histories, by William Copley, New Hampshire Historical Society, 2000.   This book indexes New Hampshire families by surname, and gives the town histories where there are genealogical write ups for each family. I wish there was a similar book for Massachusetts and Maine! This book also needs a good update, but I still refer to it almost daily.  William Copley recently retired from the NHHS, so  are there any volunteers for an updated edition?

New Englanders in the 1600s

5. New Englanders in the 1600s: Expanded Edition, by Martin E. Hollick, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012.     Four years ago I listed the 2006 edition. I’m very glad that I updated to the new “expanded edition”, it was very good investment.  This book lists the most recent genealogical articles and books published between 1980 and 2010.  I always refer to this book to find the most recent research on any early New England ancestor.

6. Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3rd edition, 2015 by Elizabeth Shown Mills.    Four years ago I listed Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence!  Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian, 1997.  Her new book is just released this year.  This book is the ultimate guide to correctly citing genealogical sources, especially the odd ones found online or in family collections.   Check out the website   This book is also available in an electronic version.

7. A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England, Four volumes, by James Savage, Genealogical Publishing Company, Baltimore, 1969.  This is an invaluable resource for New England genealogy. It is old, and you will need to read up on Martin Hollick’s New Englanders in the 1600s to see if your particular ancestors have had any newer research published lately.

8. Piscataqua Pioneers: Selected Biographies of Early Settlers in Northern New England,   by the Piscataqua Pioneers, 2000.   See the website for the lineage society and to purchase this book   This is THE BOOK to have if your ancestors lived in colonial Northern New England in the area of the Piscataqua River, spanning both Maine and New Hampshire's border region (Rockingham, York, Strafford Counties especially). 

My shelf of Mayflower books
including several Silver Books and MFIP pink booklets

9.  Silver Books Series and the pink “Mayflower Families in Progress (MFIP) booklets, published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.  These books are collectively known as the “Five Generations Project” even though now they have been researched and published past the first five generations for the Mayflower passengers known to have left descendants. There are some being published now for non-passengers (allied family members), such as DELANO and CUSHMAN  .  The MFIP books are made available while information is being researched, and once complete they become Silver books. They are NOT available online (except for a few very outdated, older volumes). 

10.  A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, 2nd edition,  by David Allen Lambert, 2009.  A town by town list of the cemeteries in Massachusetts, with a short sketch of information including contact information and other valuable tidbits.  I wish every New England state had a book like this. 


Heather Wilkinson Rojo,  "My Top Ten Genealogy Books", Nutfield Genealogy, July 20, 2015, (  accessed [access date]). 


  1. I love books and this is a wonderful list. I have all but 4,8,and 9. I use the Silver Books a lot at the library maybe I should consider buying them. The NEHGS book catalog is like the Sears catalog was when I was a child!

    1. I agree, the NEHGS catalog that arrives just before Christmas is like the "Wish Book". Santa usually brings me at least one book from this catalog each year. I plan to circle the new Great Migration Directory this year. Maybe with a big red marker!

  2. "Genealogical Dictionary of Maine and New Hampshire"
    Sybil Noyes, Charles T. Libby, and Walter G. Davis
    Published: 1928-1939
    This indispensable and comprehensive reference work is offered in a convenient one-volume form. It contains extensive biographical and genealogical data on every family established in Maine and New Hampshire before 1699. Listed are the births, marriages, and deaths of the settlers through the third generation, and sometimes into the fourth. Also included are data on places of origin, residences, wills and deeds, court cases, and highlights of lives and careers.
    Per I was fortunate enough to purchase the text at a yard sale 15 years ago for under a dollar!

    1. Great choice, Jennifer! If I had expanded the list from 10 books to 12, GDMNH would have been added. My copy was from a used book sale at NEHGS, but I'm sure I paid more than a dollar!