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Book Review – Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research 5th ed.

When I started researching my paternal family history initially I was told my grandfather was German, despite the fact his surname was King, I went with that as my initial assumption.  My grandfather had been gone a few years so I was dependent on information from other family members.  It’s easy to see why they thought he was German as his father had died young and his mother was indeed from Germany.  My search brought me to Connecticut and a long line of ancestors that hailed from that state.  I wish I had this book when I began the search.  Genealogist’s Handbook for New England, edited by Michael J. Leclerc and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society has a wealth of information on how to conduct research in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.


The handbook is organized with an overview of the region and then a section for each state.  New England is unique in that many of its records are kept at the town level, where other states will have consolidated records to one repository.  Using the section on Connecticut as an example I will dig a little deeper.   There is an overview on the state of Connecticut, it’s early government and it’s evolution to the current 8 counties.  Vital records are next, with an overview of the “Barbour Collection” a publication unique to Connecticut, as well as gaps in that collection.  The other typical records are addressed (Probate, Land, Court, and Military).  A deeper dive of  “other records” are included, those that are at the Connecticut state archives, and available at the FHL.  There is a section devoted to each county, the town listings, followed by where to find Probate and Land records for each town.


The 5th edition is updated from previous versions with Introductions for each state, maps of states and counties, lists of parent and daughter towns, among other aesthetic improvements.  Contact information has also been updated for all of the repositories, which is nice, but available via the Internet as well.  Overall I feel this is a quality guide and well worth the purchase if you intend to research in New England.   I only wish I had it sooner!


NEHGS  – New England Historic Genealogical Society


The Guide at Amazon:

Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research (5th edition)





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