Review: The Best Genealogical Sources in Print by G. B. Roberts

Gary Boyd Roberts has updated his survey of some of the best genealogical source material published in book and database form. This volume, previously published under the same title in 2004, updates a number of chapters and adds more material to the mix.

The early chapters review progress made in publishing materials since the 1960s. The middle chapters cover introductions to various significant books and series of print and digital materials. The later chapters discuss some of Mr. Roberts’ own work, the Mowbray descendants. The scope of The Best Genealogical Sources in Print is not limited to New England. It covers the entire eastern seaboard, the launching pad, so to speak, of most North American families that have been recorded in significant source materials. Published and unpublished family histories and genealogies are discussed as well as primary source materials such as federal, state, and local resources. Online and Internet-based resources are also considered, as they are the direction most modern genealogical data publishers are taking.

While printed materials are considered secondary, or derivative, sources in modern terms, they are increasingly valuable as more writers and compilers improve their source statement practices. Among the significant materials discussed are those based on the Jacobus school’s practice. Donald Lines Jacobus, a 20th century genealogist, began a rigorous practice that has developed into standards for genealogists of his, and future generations, that improves the accuracy of the materials published. Mr. Roberts reviews many of the more comprehensive materials in this book.

The Best Genealogical Sources in Print is a resource for beginners and experienced genealogists along the lines of New Englanders in the 1600s, by Martin E. Hollick, and The Great Migration series by Robert Charles Anderson. Mr. Roberts covers source materials rather than people, but the concept is the same as we use both people and printed materials as sources.

By studying Mr. Roberts’ discussions, the materials themselves, and examining the level of detail those materials contain, you can judge for yourself whether the source you use is of the higher quality. While not all good or great sources are covered in The Best Genealogical Sources in Print, the sources you use should reflect the standards of quality discussed by Mr. Roberts. I’ve found a few potential resources here that I hadn’t considered over the past fifteen-odd years that might improve my own work.

Roberts, Gary Boyd, ed. The Best Genealogical Sources in Print. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2012.


© 2012 N. P. Maling — Sea Genes – Family History & Genealogy Research


Map of USA with Alaska highlighted and shown i... focuses, obviously, on matters Alaskan.

The site has a clean design, clearly presenting the categories of links that it hosts, and minimal irrelevant advertising.

The most valuable links are in the archives, cemeteries, census, and immigration categories. The rest of the links are to sites that cover a broader array of topics, or are under construction. Alaska is a huge state but with a shorter history and fewer people living there than most. The information for some of the categories and topics may simply not be available online.

There is a bit of background for each category that explains what’s there, but these descriptions could go a bit more in depth to tell readers more about why the included links are relevant. Linking to a message board on for information about a topic is a sure way to lead a new or less-experienced genealogist into a site they may not be able to navigate as easily. The content on the message boards is probably not what they are looking for, anyway.

Some of the links are broken, but that happens all the time on the Internet. The AlaskaGenealogy site seems to be a one-person project, and one person can only do so much with so many links at once. They do ask for additions, updates, and corrections, which means they care about their content.

I like the site and have added it to my list.

© 2011 N. P. Maling – Sea Genes Family History & Genealogy Research

Research Look-up Listings

Over the past weekend and week I restructured my professional research strategy on The new listings are

  • Idaho Federal Land Records – 1860 to 1934
  • Oregon Federal Land Records – 1851 to 1908
  • Washington State Federal Land Records – 1855 to 1910
  • Oregon Naturalization Records – 1859 to 1956
  • Washington State Naturalization Records – 1850 to 1974
  • Seattle, Washington Obituary Look-ups – 1888 to 2011

Most of these records are National Archives and Records Administration microfilm holdings at the Pacific Alaska Region facility in Seattle. Depending on site availability, I can use different archives for the obituary lookups.

Feel free to post questions about the listings and specific items on that site.

Other obituary and newspaper item look-ups are also possible, using a custom look-up request mechanism on the GenLighten site.