Dictionaries are great reference works, and a genealogy dictionary is no exception. Old words, abbreviations, acronyms, and plain ‘ol genealogy terminology. No one knows it all off by heart and that’s why a dictionary is so useful. So let me share with you two of the best that we’ve seen.


Dictionary of Family HistoryTitle: A Dictionary of Family History: The Genealogists’ ABC
BOOK – paperback, 254 pages
Author: Jonathan Scott
Year: 2017
ISBN: 9781473892521
Publisher: Pen & Sword
Item Code: PNS293
Price: AUD$44.95
Link to website

“A Dictionary of Family History: The Genealogists’ ABC” is part encyclopedia, part dictionary, part almanac – and while the Jonathan Scott doesn’t claim that it’s exhaustive, it is most certainly practical, easy to use, and genuinely informative. It is the kind of book you can dip into or use as a starting point for deeper study, and it is the essential companion for experienced family historians and for anyone who is approaching this fascinating subject for the first time.

The book contains thousands of entries, all arranged alphabetically, and full of intriguing facts. There are definitions, timelines and terminologies, details of archives and websites as well as advice on research methods and explanations of genealogical peculiarities and puzzles that would test the knowledge of even veteran researchers. Longer entries explaining the mechanics of the first census and other major sources and records rub shoulders with simple one-line definitions of obscure terms, useful addresses and signposts to little-known but rewarding corners of family, local and social history.

This concise, clear and wide-ranging compendium of helpful, sometimes surprising information is a valuable reference tool for everyone in the field.

Please note: this is a UK published title, so many entries and addresses relate to UK records and places.


Title:  The Family Historian’s Enquire Within
Author:  Janet Few
Media: BOOK – paperback, 298 pages
ISBN:  9781906280116
Year:  2014
Other:  6th ed., maps
Item Code: FHP026
Price: AUD$39.95
Link to website

‘Family Historian’s Enquire Within’ is one of those classic genealogy reference books that anyone who has been doing their famly history for 15+ years probably still has on their bookshelf. The last edition of this book was produced in 1995, and as you would know, family history now is nothing like it was back then, thanks largely to the internet. As a tribute to the usefulness of this book, that despite these innovations it’s still a book that many turn to when asked any number of queries.

The introduction states that “this book is not designed to tell you everything you need to know.” Instead it is a reference book, with the aim of pointing you in the right direction.

Set out in an alphabetical format, it’s the ultimate genealogy reference book. Want to read up on Act Books, cadet, Lady Day, indentures, or Lloyd’s Marine Collection .. it’s all here. Occupations, places, titles, and genealogy terminology and a whole heap more are included in this book. It contains more than one thousand entries that will give sources, explanations, definitions, dates, addresses, bibliographies, maps and useful websites. It even includes maps of England and Wales and Scotland with the counties boundaries before all their changes in 1974-1975 as well as county maps afterwards.

If you don’t already have a copy of Family Historian’s Enquire Within, do yourself a favour and add it to your genealogy bookshelf or wishlist.