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15+ Best Genealogy Gifts for the Family History Buff

If you have a family historian on your gift list, you may want to consider our guide to the 15+ best genealogy gifts for the budding family historian.

There is nothing more special in life than celebrating the rich and diverse history of your family.

And unlike other gifts, which can be difficult to pick out because you aren’t sure if your family member or friend already has the item or not, genealogy gifts are a truly unique gift you can guarantee won’t be duplicated.

So if you’re looking to give something extra special to someone for their birthday, or during the holiday season, be sure to take a look at these Genealogy gifts which are sure to make their entire year.

1. Access to their Family Tree

Nothing pleases a history or genealogy fanatic more than being able to have access to their family tree, especially when they are able to trace their roots back even further than they have before.

There are many different online databases that provide this service for free, but most of the better ones, such as Ancestry, require a subscription to check in regularly on your family tree and add new members.

Paying for the initial costs of a subscription, or perhaps covering the costs on a yearly basis (what a great repeating gift for a birthday!) is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face, especially someone who loves history. Ancestry in particular makes this easy, as you can gift a subscription directly from their site.

Other genealogy sites are available as well, but these sites will notify your recipient when you make an account using their email. Therefore it’s best if you set it up the day you wish to give it, or tell them you will pay for it then set up an account on the holiday in question together.

2. Membership to the National Genealogical Society

Chances are when someone really loves history, they likely already have a membership to a site they use to trace and update their family tree. When this is the case, you can still give them the gift of a subscription, but one to the National Genealogical Society instead.

The National Genealogical Society subscription will not only allow your loved one to connect with others who love genealogy, but it will also offer them access to records they may not have been able to take a look at otherwise. There are also several resources available to members to help them trace their family tree and they can even get discounts on genealogy trips—how cool is that?

3. Genealogy Books

Of course, a large portion of genealogy is actually reading about history. While there are several books your genealogy lover may enjoy, it can be difficult to know if they already have the book you are thinking about buying.

Therefore, unless you are buying them a new release book you know they don’t already have access to, it’s probably better to buy them a gift card they can put towards genealogy books. Or, you could see if the book is available on Kindle Unlimited, then choose the gift option at checkout. Amazon will deliver the book right to their phone or tablet, with the option to return it if they have already read it.

4. Archiving Supplies

All families have some sort of family archive, though you are probably much more used to calling these ‘heirlooms’ rather than the family archive. Your friend or family member who enjoys genealogy likely devotes much of their time to collecting and cataloging these artefacts, which, believe it or not, takes quite a few supplies to do so.

For example, they need gloves for handling old documents, and picture scrapbooks for storing old photos. They may also need jewelry boxes or a letter organizer to keep old jewelry and letters in order. These items can be found at online shops like Archival Methods or Gaylord Archival, though you may also find some of the things you need, like hat boxes, at your local antique store.

5. A Genealogical Trip

Although a genealogical trip may sound like a large gift, it doesn’t have to be depending on where you live. For those who live in Baltimore, purchasing a genealogical trip could be as simple as providing a gift card with gas money and an entrance ticket to Ellis Island or tickets to the National Archive in Washington D.C.

Obviously, for a genealogical trip as a gift to work, you will need to know something about the family history of the person you are buying for. Take those with Asian surnames for example, as it is much more likely their family came to the United States through Angel Island off of the coast of California than through New York.

It is also possible that your friend's family could have immigrated far before Ellis Island was a thing, and if this is the case, you’re better off sending them to take a look at the passenger list of the Mayflower rather than sending them a ticket to Ellis Island.

If your friend has been itching to go overseas, to a country like Italy, to trace their genealogy further than they can on US soil, this could be an expensive vacation for you, if you’re up to buying it as a gift and go with it! Otherwise, consider buying them a gift card for an airline like United or Delta, with a message letting them know you would like to help fund their future genealogy trip.

6. An Online Genealogy Course

To be honest, an online course in an activity someone is interested in is always a great idea. There are many courses out there that can help your friend or a family member become a better genealogist, and what better gift to give than to buy it for them!

These are also great last-minute gifts as the purchase is instant, and The National Genealogical Society has quite a few to choose from so you can select the perfect gift for your genealogist.

7. A DNA Kit

Not all family genealogies are linear, and there may be a chance your genealogist is stumped based on misinformation that has been passed down orally for generations. Help them to stop having to guess exactly where they came from by buying them a DNA kit.

There are a couple of different options available, such as the one offered by 23andMe and Ancestry which offer full DNA origin profiles as well as information about what genes you carry. This is the perfect gift for anyone who wants to know their origin story, as well as a good gift for a genealogist who may be about to have a child—so they can know what traits they may or may not see in their kid!

8. A Journal

Now, this may seem like a very simple gift (especially after talking about a genealogy trip!) but genealogists spend a lot of time cataloging what they are finding as well as recording their own life. Buying them a nicely bound journal will really come in handy.

Of course, if you are the matriarch or patriarch of your family, it doesn’t make any sense to give them an empty journal. So if you are okay with it, consider giving them your personal journals to enter in the family record. Obviously, if what is written in your journal is too private for this, then wait for a later date.

9. A Map of Their Homeland

Some genealogists have already traced their roots to a far-off land like Scotland or Ireland. When this is the case consider finding them a nice map of their ancestral lands. Make it more personalized by making it of the city or town their family is from.

You can also frame the map, or purchase one which looks antiquated, whatever you think will go with their home aesthetic best! You can also gift pins to put in the map to indicate where certain family members are from (if from different cities or regions) or for the genealogist to place pins after they finally get to visit their homelands.

10. Personalized Memorabilia

Many online shops like RedBubble and Etsy have personalized shirts, mugs, hats, and masks which have fun genealogy jokes and sayings on them. Getting them a shirt that says “Eventually All Genealogists Come to their Census'' is sure to be a hit!

This is also a gift they will be able to use immediately, and on a daily basis, which may not be said about all the other gifts on this list. Additionally, these gifts are easier to wrap, and much more fun to stuff in stockings.

11. Their Family Coat of Arms/Crest

Many European families, especially those which ended up in the United States, at one point were nobility, or at least noble enough to have their own family crest. It may be worthwhile for you to take a look at your friend's family crest and purchase them a nice printed version as a gift.

Not all families have a crest or coat of arms, but if your friend has a last name like ‘Stafford’, or ‘York’ you can bet there is a beautiful coat of arms with their name on it (literally!) Many of these crests also contain useful information about the family history a genealogist will love.

Take it a step further and order a nice frame for their coat of arms so they can display it proudly in their home for all to see.

12. A Digital Recorder

As people in a family age, it is harder and harder for them to write down their stories for future generations. Pick up a digital recorder for your genealogist so they can record interviews with family members as they age.

Digital recorders aren’t expensive, and they are another gift that is easy to wrap and give. Just be sure to include some extra batteries, or maybe purchase one of the versions which can be recharged using a USB cord.

13. Office Supply Gift Cards

Some of the items on this list are very specific, which may make you nervous that your friend or family member will already have said item. Take all this worry away by buying them one of the most simple gifts they will most certainly use, and this is a gift card to an office supply store.

Highlighters, binders, and folders are some must-haves for all genealogists, and you can bet they will always need more. No matter the amount you can be sure they will always appreciate a gift card to an office supply store.

14. Laminator

It can be hard to preserve old documents, especially in hard weather climates. Consider purchasing your genealogist a laminator to keep all the documents they work so hard to preserve looking their best.

This gift is overall inexpensive, but if you can grab a couple of sheets of laminating paper, or laminating pockets to go with it, your genealogist is sure to thank you.

15. Cassette Digitizer

Over the years, technology has come a long way. While historians once worked day and night to convert records to tapes, now these same historians wish they would have waited to create a truly digital file.

Whether your genealogist has a plethora of tapes, DVDs, or maybe even old photographs, buying them equipment to help them digitize these items can go a long way. For photos, you can purchase a scanner, and for tapes and DVDs, you can order a digitizer.

If the purchase of the equipment is a little too much, there are also facilities where you can take items like cassettes and VHS tapes to be turned into digital files. It’ll be difficult to borrow these items to digitize them without your genealogist's permission, but perhaps you can let them know in a card that this is their gift and the two of you can take the items to be digitized together.

Whether you decide the genealogist in your life needs a subscription, a class, or maybe just a t-shirt, no matter what gift you get them off this list they are sure to love you come the next holiday season!

Neil Edwards

Neil Edwards

Genealogist and family-tree research specialist

Neil was born in Shropshire, England surrounded by centuries of living history. His interest in the past has been a lifelong passion leading to undergraduate degrees in both Economic History & Geography and History & Politics.

This interest in history quickly translated to family history when he moved to the U.S. in 2010. It was here that he began working on his own family tree as well as that of his American wife. That research allowed him to gain a wealth of experience working with both U.S. and European genealogical documents and studying their best uses in researching family history.

Following 9 years of honing his genealogical research skills, Neil was proud to have earned a certificate in Genealogical Research from Boston University in late 2019. Neil also took part in the research process for a Duke University study into the families of 19th Century UK Members of Parliament.

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