The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 4th Edition

The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 4th Edition

by Val D. Greenwood


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In every field of study there is one book that rises above the rest in stature and authority and becomes the standard work in the field. In genealogy that book is The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. It instructs the researcher in the timeless principles of genealogical research, while identifying the most current classes of records and research tools. It is both a textbook and an all-purpose reference book, designed to help the present generation of family history researchers better understand and utilize all available resources. This 4th edition provides a clear, comprehensive, and up-to-date account of American genealogy--no sound genealogical project is complete without it.

This 4th edition has been completely updated, incorporating all the lastest developments, principles, and resources relevant to family history research. There are now two chapters about technology as it relates to family history research--one dealing with significant concepts and definitions and the other with specific resources and applications, including major family history websites and Internet resources. In addition, virtually every chapter provides information on Internet websites pertinent to the subject discussed in that chapter.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780806320663
Publisher: Genealogical Publishing Company, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Pages: 796
Sales rank: 147,300
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.70(d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations and Charts xi

Preface xiii

Part 1 Background to Research

1 Understanding Genealogical Research 3

The true nature of research

Genealogy and science

Completing the family picture

Genealogy and historical background

The importance of places

Nothing but the facts

What is expected?

Educational opportunities

A realistic perspective

Family history professions


2 Language, Terminology and Important Issues 29

Language changes and handwriting

Changes in the language

Naming practices

The calendar

3 Surveying, Analysing, and Planning 57

Secondary research: your preliminary survey

Preserve preliminary survey results

Pedigree analysis

Get everybody


Locality analysis

Tradition, common sense, and helpful clues

Additional help

4 Evidence 79

Basic definitions

Standard of proof

Types of evidence

Sources vs. evidence

Original and derivative sources

When evidence does not make sense

Conflicting evidence

More information on evidence

5 Libraries and the National Archives (NARA) 99

The purposes of library research

Some important libraries

FamilySearch libraries

A library's online catalog

Library classification systems

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)

Final observation about library use

6 Reference Works 115

Guides to locality data

Guides to non-original sources

Guides to original sources


7 Organizing and Evaluating Your Research Findings 143

The reasons and the requirements

Note-keeping methods

Research logs and notes

Organizing your research notes

Special searches

Evaluating the information in your notes

One more step: the research report

Reminder notes

Abstracts and forms

Card files and computer indexes

Records relating to correspondence

Concluding thoughts

8 Successful Correspondence 165

Filing documents acquired by correspondence

Analyzing your correspondence results

Review of research note requirements

Writing your letter

Appearance matters

To whom do I write?

Conclusion and checklist

9 Computer Technolgy and Family History 175

Concepts and definitions of modern technology

Technological resources important to family history


10 Family History on the Internet 201

Significant steps and a current perspective

Keeping on track

Major family history websites

Enhancing your search results on these major sites

Other important websites


11 Family History: Going Beyond Genealogy 237

The what and why of family history


Historical considerations

African American family history and the Freedmen's Bureau records

Writing family history


Part 2 Records and Their Use

12 Compiled Sources and Newspapers 255

Family history and compiled sources


Limitations of compiled sources

Final observation

13 Vital Records 279

Beginning and background

Using vital records for family history

Securing copies of the records

Town meeting records

Record problems

Final observations

14 Census Returns 315

What is the census?

Where are the census population schedules?

Special census indexes

Military service information in the census

Colonial censuses, special enumerations, and state censuses

Important non-population census schedules

Glossary of census terms

15 Using Census Records in Your Research 379

Benefits and uses

Limitations of the census as a family history source

When should the census be searched?

Examples of census use


16 Understanding Probate Records and Legal Terminology 399

Definition and background of probate records

Content and genealogical value

The limitations of probate records

Legal terminology

Important details

17 What About Wills? 423

Kinds of wills

Proving (probating) the will

The contested will

The value of wills

Record problems

Finding and using wills

Help with a difficult problem

18 The Intestate, Miscellaneous Probate Records, and Guardianships 447

The intestate and the probate process

Miscellaneous probate records



19 Government Land: Colonial and American 469


Land from the colonial government

After the Revolution

History of land entries in the public domain

Records created by land entry in the public domain

Land patents from the BLM


Other state-land states

20 Local Land Records 495

Land titles

Records that relate to land

Using land records

Tax records

County land ownership maps

Availability of local land records


21 Abstracting Probate and Land Records 529

Abstract vs. extract

The nature of the abstract

Abstracts of deeds

Abstracts of wills

22 Court Records and Family History 547

Background and definition

A misconception

The American court system

Records and our access to them

Legislative records

Adoption records

Note on Virginia's independent cities

Case reports, reporters, and digests


23 Property Rights of Women as a Consideration 575


Real estate conveyances

Laws and customs relating to inheritance


24 Church Records and Family History 585

Types of records

The nature of the records

Locating church records

25 Immigrant Ancestor Origins: American Finding Aids 625

Immigration records: their nature and value

Locating and using immigration records

Passport applications


26 Military Records: Colonial Wars and the American Revolution 653

Background and history

The records

Colonial wars

The Revolutionary War

Using Revolutionary War records

Loyalists and the Revolutionary War

27 Military Records: After the Revolution 689

Between the Revolution and Fort Sumter

The Civil War, 1861-65

Military actions following the Civil War

The Regular Army or Regular Establishment

World War I and beyond

State military records and records relating to civilians

Printed military sources

When to use military records


28 Cemetery and Burial Records 727


Gravestone and monument inscriptions

Access to cemetery records

Sextons' records

Help in finding the records

Records of funeral directors


Index 739

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The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. 4th Edition 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
oldwarden More than 1 year ago
An outstanding, incredible body of work! Updated now, to include lots of methods of online help to assist you in your searches. From beginner to expert, everyone interested in genealogy could benefit from this book. And you will be referring to it, over and over again.
Escritor More than 1 year ago
Even the most experienced genealogists sometimes need help. Since 1973, some of the most valuable help available has been found in Val D. Greenwood's The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy. And now there's a fourth edition of the book with even more contemporary assistance. This update is the first since 2000 and much has changed in the world of research since then. The price of the paperback edition (no other version currently available) may be off-putting for some. But, trust me, whether you're just starting out or are a veteran, this is the best guide available and probably has the answer to any questions you might have about researching family history. This latest version includes chapters on computer technology and Internet research, including information on the major family history websites and the subject of DNA testing. These innovations are, of course, interesting and valuable. But the best value, particularly to the newcomer, is Greenwood's splendid advice on how to get started, find resources, organize research and utilize your findings in the most helpful manner. Aside from a personal mentor at your side on a regular basis, you can't get much better help. As librarian of my county historical society I encounter neophytes on a regular basis who need the type of help Greenwood provides in easy to read chapters on every aspect of research, solid advice enhanced by his years of personal experience. And there are lots of illustrations and charts to help focus on the information you need to find what you're looking for. This book is a resource the reader will come back to time and time again