The single most important set in my collection is the New England Historic Genealogical Society’s Great Migration series:
Anderson, Robert Charles, et al: The Great Migration Begins, v. 1 – 3, The Pilgrim Migration, and The Great Migration, v. 1 – 7.
I use these books much more than I thought I would. It is so hard to find authoritative information that far back that I truly appreciate the decades-long dedication of the Great Migration staff to compile these details in one place. If you are a member of NEHGS the two-generation profiles are also available and indexed at the website. But I really like and use the books.
Other books that I find useful:
The Complete Great Migration Newsletter, v. 1 – 15, by Robert Charles Anderson, NEHGS, 2007This is an entertaining newsletter that gives town-by-town overviews, snippets of local history, and interesting research problem analyses. It’s nice to bring along for quick reads.
New England Marriages Prior to 1700 by Clarence Almon Torrey, 3 vol., NEHGS, 2011 (paperback edition).Like the Great Migration volumes, this book gives you one-stop searching for early marriages. With each listing, Torrey gives the sources so one could use this for further research.
Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community and War, by Nathaniel Philbrick, 2007.
Want to get beyond the mythology and know what was really happening with your Mayflower ancestors? This book does a good job of weaving the story out of facts and telling truths that are attractive and unattractive. I learned a lot.
The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island, by John Osborne Austin with additions and corrections by G. Andrews Moriarty, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, 1969.
I would really encourage people to peruse the Genealogy section of EBay (located at http://www.ebay.com Category: EBay–>Everything Else–>Genealogy). I picked up this book, which is extremely helpful and valuable for my location, for about $30 on EBay. Using the saved search feature allows EBay to email you if an article comes in matching your search. This is a withdrawn library copy, in fairly poor shape. I especially love that this book is an older work that was updated in 1969 by handwritten scrawls in the margins by the legendary genealogist Moriarty … that’s just how they printed it.
Dennis Darling of Braintree and Mendon and Some of his Descendants, by William A Martin and Lou Ella J. Martin, c 2006, by the author.
This self-published book is a wonderfully documented compilation of the Darling family. It includes extra sections on Cook, Southwick, Thayer and Thompson (most of those are also in my tree). There are about 150 pages of footnotes/sources so it serves as a real guide for those of us researching the Darlings. I am so grateful for people who are dedicated enough to pass their full knowledge on to those who follow. When I wrote to Mr. Martin to purchase the copy I believe I may have purchased the last one. I most recently found the book at this location:
Genealogical Encyclopedia of the Colonial Americas, by Christina K. Schaefer, Baltimore, Genealogical Publishing Company, c1998, second printing 2000.
There are many guides to genealogical records out there, some of which I own, but I like this one the best. It goes town-by-town through pre-1776 settlements in the Americas. For each record set, a FHL microfilm number is given. Quoting the author in the Preface, this is a “where-to” book rather than a “how-to” book. In many cases there is brief and valuable text that gives historical context to the place and records. For whatever reason, this 800-page book makes a lot of sense to me. I originally found some snippets in Google Books.