The Source

The Source

I’ve talked before on this blog about the importance of reading genealogical books in order to learn about how to use various record sets.

I want to highlight two of the best resources for genealogical research that some of you may be unaware of.

The book “The Source” has been a mainstay of genealogists since its publication. The published book is huge and packed with information about conducting research.

I lucked up one year and found it at a used bookstore for about $7.

No need to purchase anymore—it’s online at The book’s chapters have been digitized and researchers now have access to its content.

Here are the Table of Contents for “The Source”:

Each chapter goes into great detail about how to use each type of record. Please do take a look and bookmark this as a favorite—you can learn so much.

Red Book

Red Book

Another major source for information is Ancestry’s Red Book. This is another massive volume that Ancestry has also digitized.

Ancestry’s Red Book is a resource that makes it easy to find out what records are available for each State.

When I find myself in a new research area, the first thing I do is to consult this book.

For each state, Red Book provides a county map, a brief history of the state and what records are available (and where) in the following categories:

  • Vital Records
  • Census Records
  • Internet Resources
  • County Resources
  • Background Sources
  • Land Records
  • Probate Records
  • Court Records
  • Tax Records
  • Cemetery Records
  • Church Records
  • Military Records
  • Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
  • Archives, Libraries, and Societies

For example, the Delaware chapter contains the following sections:

  • Delaware Land Records
  • Delaware Probate Records
  • Delaware Court Records
  • Delaware Tax Records
  • Delaware Cemetery Records
  • Delaware Church Records
  • Delaware Military Records
  • Delaware Periodicals, Newspapers, and Manuscript Collections
  • Delaware Archives, Libraries, and Societies
  • Delaware Immigration
  • Delaware Naturalization
  • Ethnic Groups of Delaware
  • Delaware County Resources
  • Delaware Special Interests
  • Map of Delaware

Another website I often use is The site shows animated county formations for each state. You can also click on a year and see exactly which counties existed at the time. For example, this is Maryland in 1867:

Maryland 1867

Maryland 1867


This is Maryland in 1918:

Maryland 198

Maryland 198

One last recommendation before i go: I’m often surprised at how few people have maps of the areas where they research. The U.S. Geological  Service has a wonderful set of maps you can purchase at very low prices, and I have purchased many over the years.

As an example of using the site, from the home page, click on the “Download or buy maps!” link. Then click on “Map Locator & Downloader”. I entered the city of “Laytonsville, Maryland” in the search box.

When the map pulls up, you then click on the red location marker to see what maps are available at at or near your location.

As you can see from the list below, you can purchase historical maps as well as recent maps:




You can purchase a high resolution map by download or purchase a physical map. I like that I can find river names, cemeteries, churches and any number of other useful items for family research.

Maps help us to more accurately see the landscape of our ancestors, especially those in areas that have been built up drastically.

I hope you’ve discovered at least one new site from these recommendations to add to the Tool Kit.

My readers, what websites (other than the large, well known sites) do you find yourself going back to again and again in your research?



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