The Everton Handybook for Genealogists and its Imitators

The Handybook for Genealogists is available in one or more editions in almost every genealogical library collection and in many libraries that do not have a genealogy collection. Over 1,000,000 copies are in print–the all-time best-selling genealogy book ever! In my own collection, I have 7 editions. Some of them well-worn, some with multiple copies so I could have one at each desk in my office and one at home.

Since the 8th edition (my favorite edition by the way, 1999), it is no longer a handy book–too big, too heavy to be handy. No matter, every genealogist needs an own copy. Available Hardcover book, $50.00; book with CD-Rom, $60.00. Or call 800-443-6325.

The current edition is the 11th (2005). With more than 900 pages, 8 1/2 x 11, in hard cover and on searchable CD-Rom. Full color maps (see my comments below). Information on counties and independent cities. Names and addresses for genealogical and historical societies, libraries with genealogy collections, where to write for genealogy data.

There are 8 pages of migration trails in the 8th edition, maps show the current county boundaries with the marked trails coded in color. These maps are somewhat consolidated in the later editions. And this is one of the valuable extras in the Handybook.

Color-blocked maps are recommended by printers so that the eye can locate counties and details of interest easily. The color does not have genealogical significance. Boundary changes are not included, although the county-data charts give counties of origin so you can trace the lineage of any county.

Extensive bibliographies for eight categories: General Sources; Atlases, Maps, and Gazetteers; Census Records and Substitutes; Court Records, Probate, and Wills; Emigration, Immigration, Migration, and Naturalization; Land and Property; Military; Vital and Cemetery Records. These bibliographies include some key original records on microfilm through the Family History Library (does not include film numbers). No annotations accompany the entries.

Authors of Chapters or Sections are not Identified

No individual authorship is given for the states nor the categories. We do not know who compiled the data nor under what circumstances. Items included in one edition and omitted in the next are not separately identified nor are reasons described for omitting them.

The details included for each state and country must be examined on their own merits. And while the average number of pages devoted to each is around 25 pages, their is no effort made to be comprehensive.

BIG IDEA: review the details for your states of interest, each time a new edition appears. Every single genealogist can benefit from such a review–beginner, seasoned researcher, or professional.

My Review of the Current Edition


I checked Pennsylvania and found 6 references I especially want to check:

Beers, Donna. Pennsylvania in the 1700’s: An Index to Who Was There and Where. Warrensburg MO: D. Beers, 1998.

Egle, William Henry. Warrantees of Land in Several Counties of the State of Pennsylvania, 1730-1898. 3 vols. Harrisburg PG: W. S. Ray State Printer, 1897.

Pennsylvania Land Office. Proof of Settlement Records, 1797-1869. 15 rolls of microfilm, FHL.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Land Office. Rent Rolls, 1703-44. Microfilm, FHL.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Sheriff’s Deed Book for Eastern District, 1796-1876. 4 rolls of microfilm, FHL.

Weinberg, Allen, and Thomas E. Slatterly. Warrants and Surveys of the Province of Pennsylvania, including the Three Lower Counties, 1759. Philadelphia: City of Philadelphia Department of Records, 1965.

Early land records for Pennsylvania have some major omissions–usually the hard-to-find ancestors I am tracking for my clients. So I need all the access to land titles that I can find. And here are some great possibilities.


My review of Virginia showed an excellent military records section. The omission of citations for the works of Mary B. Kegley, Frederick B. Kegley, and Lewis Preston Summers for the Southwest part of the state is a serious gap, since these works include marriages and references to early settlers available no place else. See my Virginia Genealogy Blog, 23 April 2008,

The Handybook bibliography for Virginia includes only printed sources–original record collections available on microfilm are missing. And there is a critical need for maps showing essential boundary changes along VA-NC, VA-PA along the Mason-Dixon Line, and the KY-TN boundary. Some of these differences are not resolved until after the Civil War! And they affect your ability to trace hard-to-document ancestors.


My list of records to check for Maryland includes:

Rentzler, Henry J. German Regiment of Maryland and Pennsylvania. Westminster MD: Family Line Publications, 1996.

Wright, F. Edward. Maryland Militia in the War of 1812. 8 vols. Silver Spring MD: Family Line Publications, 1979-1992.


The chapter for Tennessee, pp. 631-645, is especially good–with references to all sorts of records most of us have not yet had a chance to search. Good Tennessee bibliographies are hard to find. This one is a good place to start.

Remember, it is always a good idea to review the sources for references to records you have not yet searched. Your favorite genealogist of choice, Arlene Eakle

PS Watch for my reviews of the “new books on the shelf” which compete with the Handybook–there are some surprises in these new guys too.

PPS My new book on Virginia Genealogy Jurisdictions will fill some of the gaps I describe above. Keep your eye on my Virginia Genealogy Blog for record previews until I get the book completed.

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