Genealogical Education: Magazines and Journals
Reading is Fundamental, Even in Genealogy
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 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: General Interest, National and Regional, Geographical, Ethnic and Foreign, Special Interests, and Surname or Family Associations.
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.
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.
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.
Surname or Family Associations
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.
About the Author Kathleen W. Hinckley, is a Certified Genealogical Records Specialist, author, lecturer, and owner and operator of Family Detective. She also serves as the executive director of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists.