The Handybook for Genealogists United States of America, Eleventh Edition was recently released by Everton Publishers.
This publication has been a tool for genealogists since 1947 and was listed as one of the essential books for all genealogists in my June 2003 column. It has been only about three years since the Tenth Edition was published. Several readers have asked if they should purchase the new edition. This column will give an overview to help you decide.
The Handybook is a collection of maps, addresses and record information which is organized by state including sections on vital records, societies, repositories, record sources and counties. What makes this book so valuable to genealogy researchers is the alphabetically arranged county information. County information includes the date created, parent county, map index number, and a list of government offices with the records they hold.
The Eleventh Edition has larger type which is easier to read than the previous edition. In the county section of the state pages, “Details” is now in bold. This makes it possible to quickly pinpoint specific records.
The state material, is now completely black and white while the section of maps is in color. The state maps, which had previously been located with each individual state, have been moved to the back of the book. There is an index at the beginning of the map section that gives the map number for each state. However I did not find the map number on the state pages. In the old version, it was a simple process to find a county on the state map. Using the Eleventh Edition, it is a three step process. This change makes the book cumbersome and awkward to use.
The Handybook claims it has been “completely updated.” I took a look at the Colorado pages and found that most of this section is unchanged. The Colorado Chapter of Ohio Genealogical Society is listed, but it ceased to exist in 2003. A few Web sites have been added, such as Vital Records Office and Colorado State Archives but other Web sites have not been included.
The foreign countries section has been eliminated in the new edition. I must admit that I used this section for quick geography checks but I have other sources I can use just as easily. The migration trails section has been improved. The background color has been changed from grey to white and the trails are now highlighted in purple. Both of these changes have made reading it much easier to read.
The Handybook costs $50; the book plus CD costs $60. The CD cannot be purchased alone. The CD is a PDF file of the entire 943-page book. I like the electronic format because I can do word searches and easily print the maps, which I like.
The Handybook is an important resource for genealogists. If you do not already have a copy, I would recommend that you purchase one. If you have the Tenth Edition and the CD is a feature you would use, it would be worth purchasing the new edition. Otherwise, I recommend you continue to use the Tenth Edition.