Resources to Support Genealogy

Librarians are often asked to help patrons with genealogy research; these print titles and online resources will be valuable, whether librarians are experienced with the topic or relative newcomers.

Librarians are often asked to help patrons with genealogy research; these print titles and online resources will be  valuable,whether librarians are experienced with the topic or relative newcomers. (See also "23 and We: Genealogy Services.")


Berry, Kenyatta D. The Family Tree Toolkit: A Comprehensive Guide to Uncovering Your Ancestry and Researching Genealogy. Skyhorse. 2018. 288p.ISBN 9781631582196. pap. $19.99.

Berry, the host of Genealogy Roadshow, guides beginning genealogists through the basics; she also offers chapters on Black and Jewish genealogy.

Bettinger, Blaine T. The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy. 2nd ed. Family Tree. 2019. 272p. ISBN 9781440300578. pap. $29.99.

Considering the growing popularity of DNA testing, this volume from one of the top experts in genetic genealogy is a must for libraries.

Dunn, Michael. A Beginner’s Guide to Online Genealogy: Learn How To Trace Your Family History and Discover Your Roots. Adams Media. 2015. 240p. ISBN 9781440586453. pap. $15.99.

Dunn provides a superb exploration of basic online records and where to find them.

Elder, Diana with Nicole Dyer. Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide. Family Locket. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781732188105. pap. $19.99.

Going beyond the basics, this guide includes instructions on analyzing and citing sources, suggestions for report writing, and strategies for tackling the more difficult cases in genealogy known, as “brick walls.”

Santry, Claire. The Family Tree Irish Genealogy Guide: How To Trace Your Ancestors in Ireland. Family Tree. 2017. 240p. ISBN 9781440348808. pap. $27.99.

This series from Family Tree Books (now part of Penguin Random House) is ideal for those researching sources in specific countries. Similar guides on German, Italian, Scottish, Polish, and Scandinavian genealogy are also available from this publisher.

Schultz, Janice Lindgren. Helping Patrons Find Their Roots: A Genealogy Handbook for Librarians. ALA. 2017. 248p. ISBN 9780838916445. pap. $59.

Written by an experienced genealogy librarian, this excellent overview is designed to help librarians unfamiliar with the field and who have access only to a general collection.

Smith, Drew. Organize Your Genealogy: Strategies and Solutions for Every Researcher. Family Tree. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9781440345036. pap. $26.99.

This helpful book offers practical advice for organizing the piles of documents, photos, and correspondence that almost every family history researcher inevitably collects.

Smith, Franklin Carter & Emily Anne Croom. A Genealogist’s Guide to Discovering Your African-American Ancestors: How To Find and Record Your Unique Heritage. Genealogical Publishing Company. 260p. 2009. ISBN 9780806317885. $41.50.

The challenges associated with Black genealogy, often overlooked in other titles, are here expertly addressed.




Ancestry is often the first stop for genealogy research since it’s one of the largest and most widely known resources, with the capacity to integrate DNA test results and build family trees online. Ancestry Library Edition, from ProQuest, is helpful for patrons who don’t have their own subscription.


Maintained by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which has the largest genealogical collection in the world, this free database allows for online family tree building and has access to church and civil records from around the globe.


The strength of this resource is its collection of U.S. military records from the Revolutionary War to current conflicts. As with Ancestry, this is also a subscription service available to librarians.

Newspapers contain many clues to family history: obituaries, birth and death announcements, and notices about who visited whom. This archive of newspapers, via, will prove useful. Depending on the area, NewspaperArchive, Genealogy Bank, and Chronicling America from the Library of Congress may also be helpful.

Holly Hebert is an Assistant Professor in the Master of Library Science Program at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro.

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