Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Janet the Researcher's 10 essential genealogy books

My collection of genealogy books is not large when I don't include my texts from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and the transcriptions of Markham Township, Ontario cemeteries. I live close enough to a Family History Centre, the county archives and the public library to make use of their resources as needed, so I carefully select what I purchase. I try to purchase those that I will most likely refer to regularly for either my own or client work.

So what are the 10 essential books in my genealogy library?

1. Merriman, Brenda Dougall. Genealogy in Ontario : searching the records. 4th ed. Toronto : Ontario Genealogical Society, 2008. ( 978-0-7779-3414-2, 332 pages, illustrated, indexed)

Anyone researching ancestors in Ontario, Canada should have a copy of this book in their collection. It gives an excellent overview of the different types of records and how to find them in Ontario. The appendices give contact information on repositories. Each chapter has references and suggested reading for the topic.

2. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. Evidence explained : citing history sources from artifacts to cyberspace. Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2007. (9780806317816, 885 pages, indexed)

This is a must have for researchers of genealogy and history. So many examples are given of many types of resources that may be used during your extensive research of a topic, person or family. It is important to regularly read the chapters on the "Fundamentals of Evidence Analysis" and "Fundamentals of Citation".

3. Mills, Elizabeth Shown. (editor) Professional genealogy : a manual for researchers, writers, editors, lecturers, and librarians. Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 2001 (0806316489, xxvi, 654 pages, illustrated, indexed)

This work provides great advice on the business end of genealogy. It is good to return to this book regularly.

4. Warrilow, Betty. Tracing your ancestors in Bruce & Grey. Owen Sound, ON : Ontario Genealogical Society, Bruce-Grey Branch, 1998. (128 pages)
Although this work has not been updated in the last 10 years, it still provides good information on all areas of research in this area.

5. Curran, Joan Ferris, and Madilyn Coen Crane and John H. Wray. Numbering your genealogy : basic systems, complex families and international kin. Arlington, Virginia : National Genealogical Society, 2008. (edited by Elizabeth Shown Mills). (978-0-915156-97-0, 35 pages.

Although the focus of the next three books is on publishing your family history, I find the advice on expanding your research to include social history is worthwhile reading more than once.

6. Yates, Susan. Publish your family history : preserving your family's heritage in a book. Toronto: Ontario Genealogical Society, 2005. (0777921529, 152 pages, indexed, illustrated). This book focuses on getting your manuscript into print.

7. Hatcher, Patricia Law. Producing a Quality Family History., 1996. (0916489647, 286 pages

8. Carmack, Sharon DeBartolo. You can write your family history. Cincinnati, Ohio : Betterway Books, 2003. (1558706410, 245 pages illustrated.)

The next two are Markham Township related books.

9. Markham, 1793-1900. Markham, Ont.: Markham Historical Society, 1989. (0969090005, . viii, 373 pages, illustrated, indexed)

This book is the one that helped me make my connection from David Johnston and his wife Hannah Hemingway to Johann Nicholas Stiver (originally Stoeber), one of the original Markham Berczy settlers.

10. A story of the Markham Berczy settlers : 210 years in Markham, 1794-2004 : a story of bravery and perseverance. Markham, Ont. : Markham Berczy Settlers Association, 2004 (1894183495, 92 pages, illustrated)


  1. Janet, I'm compiling a "wish list" of genealogical books to purchase over the next year. Having ancestors from Markham and also from all over Ontario, I find your 10 essential book list very helpful. I definitely will buy Genealogy in Ontario, but I am wondering if the Markham books would be useful. Do either one of them mention a Richard Wilkinson from Yorkshire, England who married a Mary Terry or Mary Lamoreaux? They are my brick walls, and if either book mentions them, I will also put it on my "to buy" list.

  2. Hi Miriam
    Markham 1793-1900 - Only references to Wilkinsons are - Ann, James, Jonathan, Miles and William; Terry not mentioned; Lamoureaux - Jacob and Joshua.

    Markham Remebered (photographic history) - Wilkinson Charles no Terry or Lamoureaux

    nothing the Markham Berczy settler book

    The books wouldn't help with specifics on the family but the first history gives a good sense of the Markham area.

  3. Thanks for checking, Janet. I know that there were other Wilkinsons, Terrys, and Lamoreauxes in Markham; I've just never been able to connect my couple with the others that are living there.

    I agree with you that the Markham, 1793-1900 would be a good historical background book to have.

    One of my biggest problems is that this family lived in Whitchurch Twp. and Markham, and I've noticed that these two locations are the ones that often have missing records (i.e., 1851 Census, Voter's Registrations, etc.). Sigh!


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