Genealogically Related Books to Give (and Receive) this Holiday Season

Genealogically Related Books to Give (and Receive) this Holiday Season

It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that all I want for Christmas is books. As a researcher, I use my books over and over again for research ideas, to better understand history, and find new-to-me sources. I typically reading two or more books at a time and am always on the lookout for the next read. 

So what are some books I think are must-haves? Here are 5 that you may be interested in this Holiday Season. 

  1. Barbara Starmans’ Tracing Your Ancestors' Lives: A Guide to Social History for Family Historians (2017). I’m a big fan of Barbara Starman’s The Social Historian website and of Pen and Sword Books. Barbara does wonderful work using social history to tell the story of ancestors’ lives and this book will help you learn to go beyond just names and dates. 

  2. One of the books my book club is reading in 2022 is Tiya Miles’ All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (2021). This book is about a family heirloom and the research that uncovered the story. “…historian Tiya Miles carefully unearths these women’s faint presence in archival records to follow the paths of their lives—and the lives of so many women like them—to write a singular and revelatory history of the experience of slavery, and the uncertain freedom afterward, in the United States.”

  3. Marcel's Letters A Font And The Search For One Man's Fate by Carolyn Porter is a great story of a woman who buys some letters in an antique store with the intent of using the handwriting to create a new font but she becomes intrigued by the story of the man who wrote the letters. She ends up researching this man, his family, and his fate as a forced worker during WWII.

  4. It’s no surprise I might add a food-related book. I love Anna Kharzeeva’s The Soviet Diet Cookbook: Exploring Life, Culture and History One Recipe at a Time. This is her journey as she cooks foods found in the vintage Soviet cookbook, Book of Tasty and Healthy Food. She learns about her female ancestors’ lives and shares her food and family history with the reader.

  5. One of the books that was highly recommended to me by a bookseller is the Foundling: The True Story of A Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me by Paul Joseph Fronczak and Alex Tresniowski (2017). I love when people are passionate about books and she was incessant: “you need to read this book!” Based on an incredible story of a kidnapped infant, his return, and a DNA test that showed he wasn’t actually that kidnapped baby, this story will be of interest to genealogists interested in DNA and what it can reveal about long-believed family stories. You can read more about Paul at his website, The Foundling.

In my book club, we hold a meeting I’ve titled BYOB (Bring Your Own Book). In that meeting, we share books we’ve been reading. So what have you been reading? Any books that should be on my must-have list? Let me know in the comments below.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


Guide to Naturalization Records in the United States by Christina Schaefer - PDF and Printed Editions now available in our online store

Comparable in many ways to census records, naturalization records are a mine of priceless information and include such items as place and date of birth, foreign and current places of residence, marital status, names, ages and places of birth of other family members, occupation, port and date of entry into the U.S., and more. Since any court of record can process naturalization papers, records relating to naturalization can be found in a bewildering variety of courts; until the appearance of this guide, however, there was no practical means of locating these widely scattered records, nor any reference tool that even made an attempt at centralizing information.
State by state, county by county, city by city, the Guide to Naturalization Records identifies all repositories of naturalization records, systematically indicating the types of records held, their dates of coverage, and the location of original and microfilm records. The Guidealso pinpoints the whereabouts of federal court records in all National Archives facilities. But perhaps the most unique feature of the Guide to Naturalization Records is that it identifies every single piece of information on naturalizations that is available on microfilm through the National Archives or the Family History Library System, including the call numbers used by each institution. Records that are available on microfilm through other facilities have also been included.

Other special features of this work include an overview of the history of naturalization and citizenship, a special appendix on Native American tribal citizenship records, hard-to-find information on the records of Japanese and Chinese Americans, and records of internment of American citizens by the U.S. Government.

439 pages | Published 1997, reprinted 2004 | PDF Edition

Buy the PDF for 20.95.

Buy the Printed Edition for 33.00.



"The author must be commended for the diligent and time-consuming work performed to assemble this source. It is an outstanding reference work."--AMERICAN REFERENCE BOOKS ANNUAL (1998).

"Indispensable as a beginning point for research into naturalization records, this book is essential for biographical or genealogical research."--COLONIAL LATIN AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, p. 350.
"...Ms. Schaefer's Guide can help lead the researcher to needed citizenship records throughout the country."--THE AMERICAN GENEALOGIST, Vol. 73, No. 2, pp. 157-158.
"Schaefer took on an extremely ambitious project. She has succeeded in bringing together an enormous amount of disparate information of practical use to researchers...It appears that the major portion of the book is accurate and reliable, and a credit to author and publisher."--NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY, Vol. 84, No. 4, pp. 113-115.
"Schaefer provides a well-organized and comprehensive guide to naturalization records held at the local, state, and federal levels...Recommended for libraries serving clientele interested in genealogy."--CHOICE.
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A Bibliography of American County Histories by P. William Filby - PDF and Printed Editions now available in our online store

1825Compiled for use by historians and genealogists, A Bibliography of American County Histories provides a state-by-state listing of all published county histories of any significance, giving information concerning title, author, and place and date of publication, as well as details of editions, reprints, and indexes, so the reader can learn what is available almost at a glance.

The work is based primarily on the holdings of the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library, but draws as well on published state bibliographies and lists of county histories furnished by librarians in each state. Comparatively few county histories are published any more--their now almost quaint subject matter features biographical sketches, lists of vital records, and narratives of early explorations and settlements--so this book will remain the standard bibliography for years to come.

The late P.W. Filby was a world-renowned scholar, bibliographer, and cryptologist. He was the author or compiler of twenty books, including works on calligraphy, genealogy, and immigration. His best known works in bibliography include the monumental American & British Genealogy & Heraldry (1983) and Passenger and Immigration Lists Bibliography, 1538-1900 (1981).

449 pages | Published 1985, reprinted 2009 | PDF or Printed Editions

Buy the PDF for 23.95.

Buy the Printed Edition for 37.95.


"A boon for both genealogists and historians, Filby's work provides a detailed listing of published county histories for the entire United States with the exceptions of Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. . . . With the help of librarians in each state and state bibliographies, Filby was able, in most cases, to double the number of county histories listed by the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library for that state."--AMERICAN LIBRARIES (May 1987).

"Both professional and fledgling genealogists will find this a useful tool in research."--THE PENNSYLVANIA GENEALOGICAL MAGAZINE, Vol. XXXV, No. 1 (1987).

"The book [Filby] has produced is a quality product which deserves a place in local history collections."--AMERICAN REFERENCE BOOKS ANNUAL (1986).

"Any public, academic, or special library with local history interests will find this book an essential purchase. Libraries serving genealogists no longer can provide adequate reference service without it."--RQ (Winter 1985), p. 253.

"We therefore hail the publication of this newest Filby venture, based on the holdings of libraries throughout the country. By judicious omission of words and phrases from the awesomely detailed titles of most of the county histories, Mr. Filby has been able to include over 5,000 titles, with full bibliographical data for each."--THE NEW YORK GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD, Vol. 116, No. 4 (October 1985).

"The indefatigable Mr. Filby has produced another monumental work."--NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY QUARTERLY, Vol. 73, No. 3 (September 1985).

Buy the PDF for 23.95.

Buy the Printed Edition for 37.95.

County HistoriesRelated Product - Legacy QuickGuide: Researching County Histories - 2.95

The Researching County Histories Legacy QuickGuide™ contains useful information to provide you with an introduction to county histories and some tools and tips to help you with your research. With a little know-how and encouragement, you will be well on your way to exploring the various compiled histories available and furthering the research of your ancestors. This handy 4-page PDF guide can be used on your computer or mobile device for anytime access.

County histories contain a wealth of information about a county, its townships, and its people. They are excellent sources for genealogists and family historians to learn about the places where their ancestors lived. You may even find an ancestor hiding within pages of a county history. This guide will cover the types of information you can find in county histories, how to use them as tools in your genealogy research, how to locate county histories, and other types of histories you may find useful in your research.

Buy the PDF for 2.95.