‘Tis the Season for Genealogy Gifts

By: Carolyn L. Barkley

Now is the season for gift-giving. Do you have a genealogist on your holiday list? Perhaps, you are a genealogist who needs to provide a list of gift ideas to a family member. Here are five ideas to help your holiday shopping.

  1. Give the gift of books. Thomas Jefferson stated “I cannot live without books.” I couldn’t agree more. While some may debate the future of the printed word, I believe that it has a long successful future within the genealogical community. There are many titles that would be great additions under your tree. Examples include any – better yet, any combination of titles – from the Genealogy at a Glance series from Genealogical.com. These laminated, four-page basic research guides make great research travel companions, weighing little and consuming minimal suitcase space. Library Journal, in its December 2012 issue, includes a “Short Takes” in which it states that “offering vetted online resources, further reading suggestions, and practical tips…these pamphlets will provide novices with a starting point, while more advanced researchers will likely discover in them a detail or two they hadn’t considered.” Currently, there are eighteen titles in the series including research in the Family History Library, ethnic research (French, Italian, Scottish, Cherokee, African American, French-Canadian, English, Irish, and German), research in various states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Virginia), and several other topics including American cemeteries, Ellis Island, immigration, U. S. federal census records, and Revolutionary War genealogy. The cost is perfect for filling that Christmas stocking – just $8.95 each.

Another perfect one for gifting is Todd Andrik’s Reporting the Revolutionary War: Before It Was History, It Was News (Sourcebooks, Nov. 2012, $39.99), while Andrea Wulf’s Founding Gardeners: the Revolutionary Generation, Nature, and the Shaping of the American Nation (Knopf, 2011, $35.00) is a great book for a cold winter evening. Perhaps one of the best gifts would be a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills’ Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (2nd ed., Genealogical Publishing Co., 2010. $59.95) a must-have for anyone’s home genealogical library.


  1. Give the gift of an online subscription, a gift that will keep giving all year long. The choices are limitless, but here are a few to consider:

Archives.com: access to 2.5 billion fully searchable records and historical documents (an increase of 1 billion records over this time last year). Gift memberships are available for different terms, beginning with a three month subscription for only $19.95.

□  GenealogyBank: access to over one billion family history records, including historical newspapers (1690-2010), historical books (1749-1900), and historical documents (1789-1994), plus additional collections such as the Social Security Death Index. Subscriptions start at $9.95 for a thirty-day trial and then cost $69.95 per year (monthly rate is also available).

□  Newspaperarchive: access to 120 million newspaper pages (1607-present) from ten countries and all fifty-states. An annual subscription costs $39.95.

□  Fold3: access to 101,397,324 records in the “web’s premier collection of original military records.” Subscriptions cost $79.95 per year, with a discount offered to Ancestry.com subscribers and National Genealogical Society members, among others.

□  Ancestry: access to what is, arguably, the world’s largest collection of online genealogical resources. Ancestry makes it simple to give a gift subscription – just look for the “gift membership” tab at the upper right of the home page. Subscriptions focusing on United States research are available for $155.00 per year, or $77.00 for six-months; subscriptions encompassing the world are available for $299.00 per year, or $149.00 for six-months.

  1. Give the gift of technology. If you keep up with genealogical posts on Facebook, or read genealogy-related blogs throughout the year, you will have run across many possible gifts in the technology category. Probably the one most prominently discussed is the Flip-pal mobile scanner.

This device is capable of scanning (at 600 and 300 dpi) photographs, drawings, documents, and other printed items, as well as small objects such as coins. Large objects can be scanned in sections and the device’s software will “stitch” the images together.  Images are stored on an SD card and can be uploaded to your computer or laptop. Cordless, compact, and lightweight, the Flip-pal makes the perfect scanner to take along on research trips. The cost is $149.00, and a variety of accessories such as carrying cases are available as well. A Flip-pal can be purchased from a number of online vendors including Amazon.com.

  1. Give the gift of membership. There are many membership opportunities starting with local historical or genealogical societies, and ending with regional organizations such as the New England Historic Genealogical Society (beginning at $79.95 per year) and national organizations such as the National Genealogical Society ($65.00 per year). Membership in an organization such as the Association of Professional Genealogists, moreover, will support life-long learning on a continuing basis (full membership, $65.00 per year).
  2. Give the gift of learning. Genealogy, both as a profession and as a hobby, necessitates constant learning and skill-building., and numerous opportunities are available annually. You may want to gift a small scholarship to defray the cost of registration or travel to one of the many genealogy conferences and programs available each year. Some examples of the latter include the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy each January; RootsTech, in Salt Lake City in March 2013; the New England Regional Genealogical Conference, held every two years and scheduled in Manchester, New Hampshire, in April 2013; the Samford Institute for Genealogy and Historical Research in June 2013 on the campus of Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama; the National Institute on Genealogical Research held in Washington, D.C. in July, and the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference, scheduled for August 2013 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

I hope that some of these ideas will help put genealogy under your tree or in your stocking – or those of your favorite genealogist.

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