Genealogists’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th Edition

A couple of weeks ago Leland wrote a blog announcing the release for the fifth edition of the Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research. I have finally had a chance to go through the book for myself and I must say what a well put together book it is. The book is so clean and orderly. From maps and tables to organized content, reading the pages and finding information is a breeze. It didn’t surprise me at all to learn that this edition specifically addressed the standardization of information available for towns and counties, making each state identical in reference. Before getting into the crux of the book, readers should take the time to read the section on “Using this Book,” which clearly describes the contents of the book and the structure used for each of the state chapters.

The first chapter provides general information on researching New England and record keeping practices for the area. The chapter includes a list of major repositories covering the entire area. Each of the six individual New England state chapters follow the same structure. First is a profile or background to the state. Then, specific information is provided for each of the following record types:

  • Vital Records
  • Church Records
  • Probate Records
  • Land Records
  • Court Records
  • Military Records

Each chapter also contains a state map with county boundaries and the “shire town” marked for each county. All the maps in the book are two color, blue and black, using different shadings to give depth to the images. There is also a list of major repositories and organizations in the state. Expect to find contact information for organizations and archives like:

  • State Archives
  • State Library
  • State Judicial Archives
  • State Historical Society
  • State Genealogical Society
  • Other major repositories, collections, and groups

A table of counties lists the names of each county, date of incorporation, probate district(s), deed district(s), and more. Each county is listed alphabetically, after the table, providing basic county information, including the county seat and list of towns in the county. Following all this information come a directory of government agencies responsible for the registration of probate and deeds. The final sections is a table listing of all the cities, towns, and plantations. The table includes:

  • Current city/town/plantation name
  • Date of grant/incorporation as a town
  • Current county in which the town is located
  • Parent town(s)
  • Daughter town(s)
  • Special notes for the town, such as date of settlement, date of original grant, name changes, etc.

Browsing through the book I saw two other additions which bring interest and value to the book. First, the book is full of interesting photographs of people, places, groups, and other historically interesting items. Also, through the book are a collection of “Staff Picks.” These boxes in blue appear seemingly at random and offer an additional list of resources.

According to the back of the book, this fifth addition offers improvements over previous editions by providing the following:

  • Introductory essay for state
  • State and County maps
  • Charts, artwork, and photos
  • Updated repository information
  • Lists of parent and daughter towns
  • Two-Color format throughout

There is no question that this edition is very well thought out. The reader-friendly typography and design are a thrill to find is such a book. In all, this must be the easiest to use handbooks on research just about anywhere. Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research was edited by Michael J. Leclerc and published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

To order your own copy of Genealogist’s Handbook for New England Research, please visit Family Roots Publishing; Item #: NE14, Price: $24.45.


Table of Contents


Using This Book

About the Contributors

New England




New Hampshire

Rhode Island


Subject Index

Index of Places

2 thoughts on “Genealogists’s Handbook for New England Research, 5th Edition

  1. Looking for info pre 1790 census in CT, predominantly Lyme. Having no luck so far getting info I don’t already have. Would this book be of any assistance??

  2. Lyme is mentioned is several different places in the volume. It dates from 1667. References to a number of different types of records, including the Barbour Collection, are listed for the town. However, details of the early town records aren’t given in the book specifically.

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