Choosing a gift for a genealogist can be puzzling. Loved ones and, especially, relatives want to be supportive but don’t know how. To those who search for that perfect idea, maybe one below will be right for your favorite genealogists. This is an update and consolidation of all previous lists.
Paper and stationery gifts
- 1. My friend Midge has a terrific suggestion for the genealogist who has everything: bullet journal supplies from Erin Condren. You buy the spiral notebook and then some clip-in accessories like erasable lists and rulers, stretchable bands (also good for holding a tablet case on) and colorful tape and stickers. Add colorful pens by Staedtler.
- 2. Cotton archival gloves for genealogists.
- 3. Genealogists love being organized (even if, well, they’re not!) Try the Brother Printer PT70BM Wireless Personal Handheld Labeler.
- 4. Clip board. A clipboard, a pad, and a pencil can be brought into most archives, even if nothing else can, and a clipboard serves as a writing surface when at a microfilm machine or library. Try the thin printed ones at Staples. Add a bouquet of Black Warrior Pencils topped off with a 3-pack of White Pearl Erasers. I’m actually serious about this. I know genealogists.
- 5. 97.8% of genealogists love office supplies. OK I made that up. But this little book of sticky Redi-Tag Divider notes was love at first sight.
- 6. These Post-It tabs are great in binders or reference books. And, giant Post-Its! On those, I can’t decide if I like lined or unlined. Either way.
About photos and archives
- 7. Maybe a simple Canon Camera in the $100-$125 range. In the end, cheaper than paying for photocopies. This light is good for photographing pages without yellowing.
- 8. If your genealogist is not getting any younger, try magnifiers and magnifying lights.
- 9. Camera digital SD memory cards. And a little case to put them in, like this or this.
- 10. For the genealogist who serves as the family archivist (which is all genealogists), my friend Bernadine had a good experience with photo supplies from universityproducts.com, for instance, their archival storage boxes. When she phoned them, they were helpful.
- 11. I like this Canoscan scanner for pictures and papers, but you might be able to find a cheaper one that you like.
- 12. I like my Flip-Pal mobile scanner – it runs on batteries and records onto a memory card – no computer needed until you are ready to review and store the pictures. Many genealogists really covet these. The linked page is an affiliate link of mine, because I own and love this product, and you can also find cool accessories there, as well as Legacy Family Tree software and webinar subscriptions.
- 13. Family Photo Detective and many other works by Maureen Taylor help genealogists figure out those old family photos, and I also like Denise Levenick’s new guide, How to Archive Family Photos: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize and Share Your Photos Digitally.
Electronic and computer gadgets
- 14. Lifechat headphones for listening to webinars or group chats on the computer.
- 15. Cocoon Grid-It keeps small electronics together when traveling (also available in other configurations)
- 16. Eneloop rechargeable batteries by Panasonic, size AA, with a charger and case, would be good for a person who already has a Flip-Pal. Try Amazon or other retailers. I also like AA batteries that re-charge in any USB port. These would be great in a computer mouse, for travelers, in case the mouse batteries died.
- 17. USB flash drives. 8gb or 16gb should be fine. Look for sales. Genealogists need something large and bright so they remember to remove it from the computer. Combined with the lanyard, below, from Staples, this would make a terrific tech gift in the $10 range.
Books and magazines
- 18. Very new, so if your favorite genealogist has not recently purchased these, they don’t have them: AT LAST, a reliable guide to those confusing DNA test results: The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger. Also a new and moving book about the strange and unexpected news that DNA testing can bring: Stranger in My Genes by Bill Griffeth. Both of these are on my wish list.
- 19. The Third Edition edition of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills was published this year. My highest recommendation. Also check Genealogical.com in case there’s a sale.
- 20. Was new in 2015, The New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer, published by the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society. This book is huge, and I mean huge. But awesome for those troublesome New York problems.
- 21. How to Use Evernote for Genealogy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Organize Your Research and Boost Your Genealogy Productivity by Kerry Scott would be helpful for any genealogist who has mastered normal genealogy software but is looking to organize research and family history material “in the cloud.”
- 22. Looking farther afield for those ancestors? My friend Barbara recommends Tracing your Irish Ancestors Fourth Edition by John Grenham and The German Research Companion by Shirley Riemer, Roger Minert, & Jennifer Anderson. My friend Sara points out that with so many Irish records newly online, this is a great time to get going on your Irish heritage. In fact your favorite researcher might need a subscription to FindMyPast.com. Another suggestion I saw recently was Finding Your Mexican Ancestors by George and Peggy Ryskamp.
- 23. To learn more about finding immigrant records, They Came in Ships by John Philip Colletta.
- 24. If your genealogist is surrounded by books, there are some bookends with index tabs that won’t get lost when the shelves fill up. Actually, the Container Store has three styles I love: Index bookends, Tower bookends with a little storage cubby, and Mod bookends.
- 25. Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes by Shannon Combs-Bennett is a new book that would help someone get started. Genealogists enjoy reading Family Tree Magazine. This is an especially good choice for beginners, and another recommendation for new to intermediate genealogists would be the book Family Tree Problem Solver by Marcia Hoffmann Rising.
- 26. Higginson Books is having a sale through December 31, 2016. This would be a good place to get a modern reprint of an old town history or family genealogy book.
- 27. Again for experienced folks, a membership in the National Genealogical Society will include a subscription to the Quarterly.
- 28. I always thought Ancestors of American Presidents, Second Ed, 2009, by Gary Boyd Roberts, was a really fun book. I’m only related to boring Presidents, though.
- 29. I own and can heartily endorse these books by Christina Rose:
- Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case, 4th ed. (THIS IS A NEW EDITION)
- Military Bounty Land 1776-1855
- Courthouse Research for Family Historians: Your Guide to Genealogical Treasures
- Military Pension Acts: 1776 to 1858
- 30. Books for those with New England ancestors from the New England Historic Genealogical Society:
- The Great Migration Directory by Robert Charles Anderson. A complete list, in one volume, of persons in 10-volume The Great Migration series covering arrivals 1620-1640, along with brief citations. This just came out last year; very useful to have at home for deciding whether you will need to access the larger set in a library (see next item).
- NEHGS’ landmark series the Great Migration Begins – now in paperback – has never been more affordable and The Great Migration volumes are also now in paperback (each volume is also sold separately).
- Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th Edition by Michael J. Leclerc. A guide to repositories and records.
- New Englanders in the 1600s: A Guide to Genealogical Research Published Between 1980 and 2010 by Martin E. Hollick (Expanded Edition). Locate research articles on families or locations of interest.
- A Guide to Massachusetts Cemeteries, 2nd Edition by David Allen Lambert. This is a valuable book.
Support genealogy small businesses
- 31. I love the work of the Gravestone Girls. I have a refrigerator magnet.
- 32. Lookup the historical society for an area your genealogist is researching and see what they offer – maps are always good. Also, the local genealogy societies usually offer publications or guides. For instance, the Rhode Island Genealogical Society has many valuable books and cemetery guides at their online store.
- 33. See what you can find on Etsy!
- 34. The idea of heritage cookbooks was sent to me by Wendy Grant Walter. She recently purchased Great German Recipes and said: “in it are many dishes that I remember having as a kid that I assume my mom learned from her 1st generation German mom.” At that same link many other cultures are covered, too.
- 35. Barb’s Branches has some attractive tree jewelry in an Etsy shop. Among her interesting handmade “tree” pieces, she has the inspired idea of making jewelry from old silver spoons. Amazing!
- 36. Every genealogist loves a beautifully executed family tree chart. Two suggestions:
- I have seen the work of Family Chartmasters and it is not only excellent, but each piece is tailored to the family’s preferences. Go to this link and scroll down to check out the samples. If you have access to enough info, you could order one, if not, you could give a gift certificate and allow your genealogist to collaborate with Family Chartmasters on a wonderful end product.
- i (chart) you makes beautiful custom ancestor charts; you send the data and they send you the file electronically, ready for you to have printed in the size you prefer. This would have to be ordered by the genealogist, but a gift certificate (see the last few boxes on the main page) might be nice. Thanks to Wendy Grant Walter for this idea. I was thinking of taking this off the list this year and then I looked at them and realized I really want one.
Make your own gift
- 37. The family genealogist wears too many hats. Family historian, archivist, photo restorer, report writer, researcher, local historian, cemetery rabbit. A gift that would be appreciated is an effort to collect and produce a small book on one aspect of your family history. Say, dad’s service in WW2, the relatives overseas from when you visited, or just everyone’s childhood. My sister does this from time to time and it’s great. No genealogy expertise needed, she asks me for pictures in advance, and the whole family gets a slice of its story without me having to do anything.
- 38. A similar option would be to find, scan and print a copy of an old family photo, and frame it nicely – perhaps in an old frame.
For Rhode Island genealogy
- 39. Good news! All 9 volumes of The Narragansett Historical Register (originally published in the 1880’s-1890’s) are back in print from Heritage Press. Check them out! vol.1 vol.2 vol.3 vol.4 vol.5 vol.6 vol.7 vol. 8 vol.9 How about one volume a year?
- 40. I heartily and strongly recommend the recent book Rhode Island in the American Revolution: A Source Guide for Genealogists and Historians by Eric G. Grundset for the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR Source Guides on the American Revolution Series No. 4), 2014. Quite a bargain at $25. It is 200 pages of guidance on where to find Rhode Island records from the 1770’s and 1780’s, but it will not contain the records themselves – most of those are buried in archives and manuscripts.
- 41. The most valuable book for those with ancestors in Rhode Island during the 1600’s is The Genealogical Dictionary of Rhode Island by John O. Austin, published by Genealogical Publishing. It maps the first three generations of many early Rhode Island families. You can sometimes find a cheaper used copy on eBay, but be sure to buy a version with additions and corrections from the 1960’s – 70’s.
- 42. The Rhode Island Historical Society has a bookstore at the John Brown House, and online, offering my favorite print of Providence ever, President Street by Joseph Partridge, 1822. I also love Market Square. Only $15 each.
- 43. New England Court Records by Diane Rappaport.
- 44. Spirit of 76 in Rhode Island by Benjamin Cowell for listings of R.I. Revolutionary War soldiers.
- 45. The complete three volume New England Marriages Before 1700 by Clarence Almon Torrey would be quite a thrill for any serious early New England researcher. It seems to be falling out of print; try searching for it here or here.
- 46. A gift membership in the Rhode Island Genealogical Society is a terrific gift for the serious Rhode Island genealogist.
Trying something new
- 47. For those new to DNA testing, and looking for an easy way to try it out, I could recommend an Ancestry DNA test kit. Your genealogist will use the kit to submit a sample (in fact, it will be important to the genealogist to choose WHO will be sampled) which will be analyzed, and the results, available online, will show links to other individuals.
- 48. A better choice for the same money, for a genealogist who is more experienced, is the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test kit. Family Tree DNA gives enough information to more accurately allow you to estimate, if the right people are tested, the common source of your matches.
- 49. Check out the Latest and Greatest gifts from Fun Stuff for Genealogists.
- 50. Apparently, there are genealogy mysteries – this is news to me. Try The Lost Ancestor or The America Ground by Nathan Dylan Goodwin. I understand Steve Robinson is well known – here’s To The Grave.
FREE FOR EVERYBODY: My vintage Christmas gift tag sheets on Pinterest, ready for printing.
ALSO: Check out Anne Wagner (of Rhode Island)’s PDF handout on GIFTS GENEALOGISTS MAY WANT TO GIVE. I may try some of these!
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