Genealogy is one of the largest hobbies across the world, and with the addition of DNA testing, it's only getting bigger! See all the gift ideas that are perfect for a family history buff! I've pooled hundreds of genealogists from pro's to beginners to find out what they really hope to be gifted this holiday season!
If you've read my profile, I've listed that I'm a hobby genealogist. Well that is a bit of a fib. I'm actually an obsessed genealogist. I've traced my family tree since I was in high school, and 25 years later the bug hasn't abated. In the last 5 years, I've added DNA research to the mix which opens another can of worms! I've been able to help over 10 people locate their birth families and that is truly something that never gets old. It's worth all the hours poured over documents, late nights scanning online trees, bottomless cups of coffee searching through newspaper articles.
The thing about genealogy that most people might not know is that it can get expensive quite quickly. As much as that family historian loves telling you about your relatives, that same person will probably be tickled pink if you would consider gifting them something truly useful in their hunt. I'm listing products of all price points some even free. I've decided to break it down to several categories to keep it a bit more organized. So let's get started.
This post contains affiliate links. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe would be a good fit for my readers. This comes at no added cost to you!
2018 Best Genealogy Gifts
Best Family History Gifts For A Beginner Searcher:
- A membership to Ancestry.com I might ruffle some feathers with this one, but as a researcher, it is something that you can use everyday. It will have the majority of records you need (especially if just starting out). It's a good way to get a feel for the hobby and see if you like it. Most libraries offer the use of it free in the library for a few hours a day. But lugging your paperwork can get old, computers can be reserved for other patrons, or you might want to do research late at night. This is one of my yearly expenses that I sometimes hate paying, but I get so much use out of it. I recommend the United States Discovery Membership for most people and then World Explorer if you are going to do overseas research. Right now memberships are 20% off!
- Newspaper.com membership
Newspapers.com is available as an add-0n to an Ancestry.com membership, but I prefer to purchase it yearly by itself. Especially for those who utilize other member sites, having this added tool is essential. The newspapers can be hit or miss for any search. I'm amazed at how some states have so many newspapers included, and how others have few. I've found hundreds of articles on some people, and absolutely zero for others. You never know what you will get- but the search itself is very fun. I could read historical articles and see old timey ads all day long!
- A "starter" DNA test. I call it a "starter" because it will get the ball rolling. It will unleash a new way of searching that will only continue to expand. The databases are growing at a rapid rate and the possibilities are just amazing. Our family brick wall that was well over a hundred years old was shattered by DNA testing alone. I am 100% confident that our mystery NEVER would have been solved without DNA testing. I wrote this article on the basics of DNA Testing and it has a lot of helpful information for those starting out. AncestryDNA: The Perfect Gift for Every Person - I always recommend Ancestry to a newbie because it has the largest database and is very user friendly. That said, if you don't have the above mentioned membership, it will not feel that way! Right now Ancestry DNA tests are only $59!
- Spiral notebooks I know it doesn't seem very glamorous, but oh, the amount of paper we go through. I tend to lose little pieces of paper, and so in order to solve this crisis I invested in spiral notebooks. I have them for family groups, notebooks for DNA matches only, the list goes on. And sometimes only a piece of paper is capable of drawing out the complicated tree maps we might be up against. Save that spare napkin from getting grabbed up and get a bunch of different colored spirals!
- Another alternative is Evernote.com which I am slowly converting over to. There are several features I really love. One, no more spiral notebooks taking up bookshelf space! Another is I can log in anywhere in the world and see my notes. If I have taken a screenshot of a newspaper.com article, it will even search through that type! I can search keywords and have things pulled up in an instant. No more sifting through countless paper notes. You can upload pictures. I will sometimes chart out complicated relationships hand drawn on a piece of paper, take a picture on my phone and then upload it. Evernote does offer a free version, but you can fill up storage quickly. To search newspaper articles you have to have the paid version.
Technology Gifts for Genealogists 2018
When I first started polling fellow genealogy buffs, I was surprised at some of the technical requests they had. Once I read them though, it made perfect sense. So here are some of the popular technological gifts they are yearning for:
- a second computer monitor :There are a lot of times where a researcher is comparing trees, or has 15 windows open at a time. The second screen would really help for sure!
- high speed internet service: We all hate paying that bill, but we are always glad when it's running quickly. Consider chipping in to upgrade your researcher's service.
- a scanner for old pictures and slides, or a service to do it for them. I am slowly doing this and it is tedious, but so worth it. I can copy a picture and send it to 7 cousins by email. I can upload to my cloud and know that if anything every happens like a house fire, our photos are safe.
- a new camera. We are the worst at taking photos of ourselves, but we are the ones who know how valuable finding a picture of a relative is. Think of that feeling when you finally see the picture of someone you have spent hours upon hours on. It's priceless. Do the same for others further down the road. Invest in a camera that takes high quality photos. I personally use a Nikon for most of my blog photos and family photos but I use this amazing camera which weighs less for when I travel.
Books and Magazine Subscriptions for Genealogists:
Most of the books I have personally read and enjoyed. Sometimes reading about other people's experience while hunting relatives can really inspire you, or give you new ideas on different avenues of searches to pursue.
- The Stranger in My Genes: A Memoir by Bill Griffeth
- The Foundling: The True Story of a Kidnapping, a Family Secret, and My Search for the Real Me by Paul Joseph Fronczak
- Annie's Ghosts : A Journey Into A Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg
- The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger
- The Handy Book for Genealogists
- Family Tree Magazine
- Who Do You Think You Are Magazine
- Irish Roots Magazine
Gift Ideas for DNA Genetic Genealogists:
- More autosomal DNA Tests! We can always think of about 5 people we'd like to test. Many of us keep tests on hand. I always have a spare Ancestry DNA and 23 & Me kit on reserve.
- Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. You might not know what they mean, but they do! And we've been known to hunt down cousins to take these specific tests for us. Family Tree DNA is the main company for these specific tests.
- A membership to DNAPainter.com or Tier 1 Tools on Gedmatch.com
Other Popular Gifts Requested By Family Researchers:
Gift card for 3 hours of genetic genealogy pro's time to work on just one family line.
- An Amazon.com gift card to pay for essentials, so my other money can go to this habit!
- Airline gift cards or gas money to get us to the county courthouses, cemeteries and war memorials we want to visit. Or to visit the places we dream about after tracing our roots. See how I have personally used my DNA results to plan overseas travel adventures!
- Money to cover the cost of birth certificate, death records, and more documents we order
- YOU to DNA test!!!!! The more people who test, the easier it is!
FREE Genealogy Gifts
- With the exception of Ancestry and 23 & Me, most large DNA companies allow for FREE transfers of your raw DNA file from another company. They vary based on the specific type you took, but it's worth looking into. Sites like MyHeritage, Living DNA, Family Tree DNA, GedMatch.com are just some of the ones I have utilized. It's always good to fish in more ponds when searching for more matches! It's a great way to get more bang for your buck.
- YouTube. Yes, I'm being serious here. Genealogy can be overwhelming. But did you know there are videos out there for FREE to teach you how to use Ancestry's research tools, what to do after your DNA results are back, and even more.
- The technology involved with the new research can be frustrating at times. I had more than one person request a computer savvy teenager who has caught the genealogy bug and needs a bit of cash to line his or her pockets... A grandchild or other relative that could give their gift of time and talent would be priceless. Thinking back now, it was the stories my older relatives told me that got the ball rolling for me. Oh the things I wished I would have asked now!
Wow, that was a comprehensive list! What do you think? Did I cover it all? What would you like to see included?
Maybe you need gift ideas for someone in your family that isn't a genealogist - that's okay! I've got that covered too! I've joined up with lots of other bloggers to share some of the best gift guides out there for 2018! Be sure to check them all out!