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Genealogical Education: Magazines and Journals

by Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS
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Reading is Fundamental, Even in Genealogy
Family history is an ever-expanding hobby in terms of new resources, technology, and techniques. One of the best (and least expensive) ways to keep up with new developments is by reading magazines and journals. Expert Kathleen Hinckley shows you how to find them.

Genealogical education is constant. Our primary form of education is through hands-on research experience. But we also learn by attending conferences and institutes, completing online and home study courses and reading genealogical magazines and journals. Part I of this series focused on the online and home study courses, and Part II detailed the national conferences and institutes.

This final segment addresses our most consistent method of self-education — reading. Nearly twenty years ago, my genealogy mentors strongly urged me to read, read, read. They told me not only to read reference books from cover-to-cover, but to study the case studies presented in scholarly periodicals, regardless of surname, time period, or geographical focus. Their advice turned out to be the biggest factor in developing my research knowledge and skills.

Today’s genealogical magazines abound with research tips, how-to articles, case studies, book reviews, and record abstracts. Some magazines are slick full-color productions published by big corporations, and others are simple quarterly journals compiled and published by genealogical societies. But regardless of the size or appearance, there is something to learn in nearly every publication.

Genealogical periodicals can be categorized into six types:

Below are examples of each type with links to subscription information. Some of the magazines listed below have cumulative indexes at their Web sites, sample articles, or tables of contents for current and/or past issues.

General Interest

American Genealogy Magazine War of 1812 Widows & Orphans, abstracted by Craig R. Scott, CGRS, is serialized in each issue.
Family Chronicle Magazine Article index and free trial offer at their Web site.
Family Tree Magazine Premiere issue dated January 2000.
Genealogical Helper Primary focus is advertising and queries — an excellent resource for finding others researching the same family. Published since 1947.
Heritage Quest Magazine Each issue of Heritage Quest contains over twenty articles, with one sample article from each issue at their Web site.
History Magazine Premiere issue was dated October/November 1999.

National and Regional

NEHGS Register Founded in 1847, the oldest genealogical periodical, publishes scholarly articles on the British and European noble and royal lines of New England colonists.
The American Genealogist (known as TAG) Founded in 1922, covers early immigrant families throughout the American Colonies, with emphasis on New England.


The Record  published by NYG&BS (New York Genealogical & Biographical Society) The Record was founded in 1870, making it the second-oldest genealogical journal in the United States. Their articles focus on families that lived in New York State before 1900. Often contains compiled genealogies of immigrants, continuing for three to five generations.

Ethnic or Foreign

Australian Family Tree Connections Research in Australia and New Zealand.
Avotaynu The world’s largest circulation magazine devoted to Jewish genealogy. Contributing editors from fifteen countries regularly write for the magazine.
Canada’s Family History News Since 1996, each issue focuses upon a specific province of Canada. Information on how to order back issues can be found on their Web site.

Special Interests

Association of Professional Genealogists Quarterly (APGQ) A twenty-year subject index (1979-1999) is published on the Web site.
Genealogical Computing Magazine Each issue includes articles written by well-known computer experts in genealogy.

Surname or Family Associations

The Directory of Family Associations by Elizabeth Petty Bentley Lists approximately 6,500 family associations. Many of the associations publish surname newsletters or journals.

The above list is merely the tip of the iceberg. According to Kory L. Meyerink in his chapter, "Genealogical Periodicals" in Printed Sources: A Guide to Published Genealogical Records (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1998), there are over 3,000 genealogy periodicals in North America.

Genealogical periodicals not only educate with their case studies and how-to articles, but many magazines also include indexes and abstracts to records. Finding Ancestors in Periodicals will guide you through research strategies.

I remember reading an article about twenty years ago titled, "Periodicals: The Goldmine of Genealogy." The author was right. The goldmine is still rich with material and is the mainstream of education. If you want to be successful in your research, subscribe to periodicals pertinent to your research and read, read, read.

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