Best Books in Print

* Author’s Note:  Google BooksTM should always be checked first.  Its companion and more recent variant, Google Play, is also useful but more likely to involve a fee.  Overall though, Google is excellent, free resource that allows access to books that were often unattainable except be the most diligent collector.  As for those of us who prefer a physical copy, recommend you always check your local bookstore first.  If you live in the metro Washington, D.C. area then the penultimate choice is the Politics and Prose bookstore

Many thanks to my cousin Howard Person for reviewing and updating this reading list. 

      SB, November 2014

Title Review Availability
New England’s Generation, The Great Migration and the formation of Society and Culture in the Seventeenth Century, by Virginia DeJohn Anderson, 1991.  232 pages. A very readable yet fact-filled look at what brought the Puritans to America and, once here, what their lives were like.  It provides great context for the researcher.
Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)

How to obtain  (Soft)
Also available from Cambridge University Press

Albion’s Seed, Four British Folkways in America, by David Hackett Fischer, 1989.  946 pages. Probably the seminal work of early American history – certainly in our time.  Written to appeal equally to the scholar and non-professional historian.   Comprehensive look at migration patterns (both U.K. & U.S.), religious motivations, inter-marriage of notable families, occupational factors
View online at Google Play
How to obtain (Hard)
Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)

How to obtain  (Soft)

The Hastings Memorial, A Genealogical Account of the Descendants of Thomas Hastings of Watertown, Mass. From 1634 to 1864, by Lydia Nelson (Hastings) Buckminster, 1866.  183 pages. The first and still the only truly comprehensive genealogy of the Hastings family.  Contains amazingly few errors (e.g., spurious noble ancestry for Thomas).   A great book and a “must have” for Hastings researchers.  Contains specific Hastings content. View online (Google Books)Often out of print but hard bound photoduplicate may sometimes be found at or  Print to order Photoduplicate copies can be purchased from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) for approximately $40.  Members can also borrow this book (for nominal fee) from NEHGS Book Loan Service.
Family Memorials, Genealogies of the Families and Descendants of the Early Settlers of Watertown, Mass. Including Waltham and Weston…, by Henry Bond, M.D., 1855.  Approximately 1100 pages. Perhaps the best and single most comprehensive local history/ genealogy ever written for ancient New England families.  It is almost unbelievable that one man could have put this together.  The best.  Contains specific Hastings content. Reproduction copies can be procured from Tuttle Antiquarian Books or via amazon.comNEHGS members can also borrow this book (for nominal fee) from Book Loan Service.
Divided we Stand: Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630-1680, by Roger Thompson, 2001.  175 pages. No doubt the best social and political study of early Watertown.  Our ancestor figures prominently in those early years and the author tells that story well.  You will find many other well known names such as John Coolidge who is also an ancestor of many TH descendants.  Contains specific Hastings content. How to obtain (soft) ($26.95)
Barnes & Noble (B&N)

The Great Migration 1634-1635, by Robert Charles Anderson (Boston 2003), Vol. III, pp. 235-40 The magnum opus of books covering the biographies of Great Migration immigrants to New England through 1640.  Contains specific Hastings content.
Any book in this series in the series can be purchased from NEHGS

Puritan Village, The Formation of a New England Town, by Sumner Chilton Powell, 1963.  211 pages. This book won the 1964 Pulitzer Prize for History.  An excellent study of the settling of Sudbury, MA.  Contains useful context for those studying other towns as well.  Great information about notable settlers such as Edmund Rice. View online (Google Books)How to obtain   (Soft)Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Builders of the Bay Colony, by Samuel Eliot Morison, 1930.  405 pages. Contains hard to find biographical information on the early “movers and shakers” (e.g. John Winthrop, etc.).  When you need it you really need it. Reproduction copies can be obtained through Tuttle Antiquarian Books,  Amazon (new and used) or
Ancestors of American Presidents, by Gary Boyd Roberts, 1989.330 pages. Even if you aren’t interested in notable kin (oh come on now fess up) you will find the family trees contained in this book exceedingly valuable.  New England families were very inter-related and this book shows how with easy to follow illustrations.  Excellent resource! Mr. Roberts is associated with the NEHGS and they sell his books.Hard copy is also available from Amazon.
Watertown Records Comprising the First and Second Books of Town Proceedings with the Land Grants and Possessions also The Proprietors’ Book and the First Book and Supplement of Births, Deaths and Marriages, by the Watertown Historical Society, 1894. This is where you go when you want to see the sheer magnitude of Dr. Bond’s task in writing his Watertown Genealogies mentioned above.  Every aspect of day to day life is mentioned in this book.  Thomas Hastings, who served in many public capacities during his long life, is mentioned perhaps more than any other citizen.  Captures the essence of 17th century Watertown.  Contains specific Hastings content. View eBook online at American Libraries  (The Library of Congress)Out of print but hard bound photoduplicate can be purchased from the NEHGS.
Great Little Watertown, by George F. Robinson and Ruth W. Robinson (his daughter).  1930. This labor of love was published on the Tercentenary of Watertown’s founding.  Mr. Robinson married into the Coolidge family that so many Hastings descendants share a kinship with. View eBook online ( of print.  Antiquarian copies hard to find.How to obtain  (Hard / Used)
Plymouth Colony, Its History & People 1620 – 1691, by Eugene Aubrey Stratton.  481 pages. An outstanding combination of local history and family genealogies. Out of print but copies can be found.  How to obtain  (Used soft sell for ~ $16 while hard covers range up to ~ $46)Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)
Genealogical Register of the First Settlers of New England, by John Farmer, 1829. One of the earliest genealogical reference books.  Given the difficulties of assmbling such a book in the early 19th century, it is an impressively comprehensive source for first and second generation puritans.  Can be vague and incomplete so doesn’t always answer the question but usually points you in the right direction. Contains specific Hastings content. View online (Google Books).A hard bound reprint can be purchased through the Genealogical Publishing Co. (GPC) in Baltimore.GPC copies can also be found on Amazon and
A Little Commonwealth: Family Life in Plymouth Colony, by John Demos, 1971.  197 pages. A thorough sociological view of early American life looking at everything from marriage, raising children to traditions and taboos.  Good context. How to obtain   (Soft)Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)
The Charles, by Arthur Bernon Tourtellot, 1941.  356 pages. This is part of the excellent “Rivers of America” series.   While it more than does justice to the river it really uses the Charles as a narrative vehicle for telling the story of the people and towns who graced its banks.   Highly readable with great anecdotes and historical context.  Another one in the series to look for is about the Connecticut River. Previously hard to find but new (2014) reprint is available.  As always, check your local used book store first … that is where I found mine.How to obtain   (new soft cover reprint)  Used hard cover originals also can often be found on Amazon for slight more (~ $20).  Also available at Barnes & Noble (B&N)
The Flowering of New England, 1815-1865, by Van Wyck Brooks, 1936.  550 pages. This beautifully written book explains how the land of staid puritans began to evolve into the liberal mecca that is Massachusetts today.  Hawthorne, Emerson, Alcott, Thoreau…they’re all here.  One of the best sources for capturing the intellectual cross-currents of life in the 19th century. View Online ( to obtain (Hard, used & reprint)
New England Outpost, War and Society in Colonial Deerfield, by Richard I. Melvoin, 1989.   368 pages. A very interesting book on the settlement of Western Mass. and Deerfield in particular. Contains specific Hastings content. Hard and soft copies are widely available from ~ $2 – $21.How to obtain  (Soft)
Pathways of the Puritans, by Mrs. N.S. Bell, 1930.   212 pages. The fairly rare book published for the Mass. Bay Colony Tercentenary Commission contains a wealth of hard to find information of the people and places of early New England. Available through both amazon and B&N for prices typically ranging between $27 – $30.
The First Salute, by Barbara W. Tuchman, 1988.  147 pages. An excellent source on the Revolutionary War era my one of America’s foremost historians. How to obtain  (Hard)
How to obtain  (Soft) Typically around $12.There are also audiobook and Nook versions available.
Chronicles of the First Planters of the Colony of Mass. Bay from 1623-1636, by Alexander Young, 1846 An outstanding source for information on the journey to America and the hardships of the first settlers. View online Google or Archive.orgActual copies of this book for sale are very hard to find.
The Beginnings of New England, by John Fiske, 1889.   328 pages. A scholarly work, well written and packed full of interesting lithographs, and maps.  Heavy emphasis on the origins of puritanism, the pilgrim exodus, etc.   Another great context book. Out of print.  This book can sometimes be found on Amazon or try Tuttles.  Prices can start as low as $7.  Amazon also has a Kindle version available.
The Oxford Book of Royal Anecdotes, by Elizabeth Longford, 1989.  546 pages. For the many that have royal lines this book is full of great anecdotes about your ancestors.  After reading this, you may have a new appreciation for what you thought was mis-behavior on the part of the current royal family. How to obtain  Prices typically range from $44 for hard cover to as low as $29 for soft.
Mobility and Migration, East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640, by Roger Thompson. 305 pages. An invaluable source for information on the origins, occupations and family inter-relationships of early New Englanders.  Specific mention of Thomas Hastings. How to obtain  (Hard)
History of the Thomas Adams and Thomas Hastings Families, of Amherst, Massachusetts, by Herbert Baxter Adams, 1880.  66 pages. Prof. Adams’ genealogy is a very good source for information on both his Adams ancestry and his line of descent from Thomas the immigrant via son Dr. Thomas Hastings and wife Anna (Hawks).   Contains specific Hastings content. Soft copies can often be found on Amazon starting at $15.
Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume 1607-1896, published by The A.N. Marquis Company, Revised Edition, 1967.  689 pages. I refer to this excellent book more often than most.  It contains thousands of famous and also long-forgotten Americans.  The biographical citations are very valuable because, in most cases, they list full dates of birth and death, names of parents and name of spouse (to include maiden name). If you are lucky you might pick this one up as an ex-library book as I did.  Used hard copies can sometimes be found on Amazon or B&N starting at $8.
The Genealogical History of the Clark and Worth Families …, by Carol Clark Johnson, Private Printing (Ohio), 1970. Contains specific Hastings content.  Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is this books speculative ancestry for Thomas Hastings the immigrant.   The author’s supposition is covered in my  on his ancestry View online ( for sales may be found on AbeBooks.comNEHGS Members can also borrow this book (for nominal fee) from Book Loan Service.
The Hawaiian Islands, From Monarchy to Democracy, by Nancy Webb and Jean Francis Webb, New York. Contains specific Hastings content.  Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is this discussion of the missionary Judd family (TH descendants) and their great influence on the social and political life of the Hawaiian Islands. In is not uncommon to find this is the circulating collection of local libraries.  It can also be found for purchase at Amazon or B&N starting at around $6.
Dorothea Dix: New England Reformer, by Thomas J. Brown, Harvard Univ. Press, 1998.  432 pages. Dorothea Dix was a respected 19th social reformer and, at least as portrayed in this book, a rather difficult and vainglorious person.  Contains specific Hastings content.  Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is the fact that Dorothea Dix was a TH descendant. This book is available through and B&N with prices ranging from ~ $18 to $61 plus.
Theodore Parker: Yankee Crusader, by H.S. Commager, Peter Smith Publishers, 1984. Rev. Theodore Parker was a highly respected 19th theologian and social activist who was a friend and intellectual peer of Emerson, Holmes and other New England luminaries.  He was considered one of the brightest men of his day.   Contains specific Hastings content.  Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is the fact that Rev. Parker was a TH descendant. This book is available through   Approximate cost is $13.Also available at B&N.
Life and Correspondence of Theodore Parker, by John Weiss. See above.  Contains specific Hastings content.  Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is the fact that Rev. Parker was a TH descendant. View online ( of print.  This book is hard to find.  Try Tuttles or for soft copy try Amazon or B&N.  There is also a Nook version available.
Put the Vermonters Ahead, by George N. Parsons, 1996.   216 pages. Members of the Hastings family and related families were well represented in the Union regiments of  Vermont.  This is a very readable history and useful reference tool. This book is available through   Approximate prices range from $9 for soft copy to $93 for new Hardcover.  Also available at B&N.
Coolidge: An American Enigma, by Robert Sobel, 1998.   400 pages. The many Hastings descendants who share a Coolidge lineage will find this very well written book on President Coolidge quite interesting. This book is available through   Approximate cost is $24 (Hardcover).  There is also a Kindle version available for ~ $10.
“The Hastings Family in England and America,” compiled by Judith Ruth Maclean & Ira D.S. Kelly

We have not personally read or reviewed this book but at least one Hastings researcher considers it “the best reference I’ve ever seen.” It can sometimes be found on Amazon or by writing the authors at 5300 West 58th St, Shawnee-Mission, Kansas, 66205.
Paradise Planters, the Story of Brook Farm, by Katherine Burton, 1939.  336 Pages. Of main interest for the Hastings researcher is extensive reference to Rev. Theodore Parker, a TH descendant. Probably out of print.   Try Tuttle’s, alibris or Amazon.  Prices normally begin at $5.
The Old Post Road, by Stewart Holbrook, 1962.  273 Pages. This book provides great historical background for New England’s greatest road and one that our Hastings ancestors knew well. This can usually be found on Amazon starting at $22.
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol. 16, part 1, Family
of John Alden
This can usually be found on Amazon or AbeBooks.
Mayflower Families Through Five Generations, Vol. 18, Part 1,
Family of Richard Warren
This can usually be found on Amazon or AbeBooks.
Emigrants’ Guide to Oregon and California, by Lansford W. Hastings The original, not always reliable guide book that helped spur migration to West…generating controversy in the process as it led some travelers astray.  Lansford was a TH descendant.
View online (Google)
Available from Applewood Books in Bedford, MA (
Also available from Amazon where soft copy prices at $12.
Ordeal by Hunger, by George R. Stewart, This book offers a good rendition of the Donner Party story.  Addresses Lansford Hastings’ role in the tragic event. View online (Google)
The Confederados, Old South Immigrants in Brazil, edited by Cyrus B. & James M. Dawsey, University of Alabama Press, 1995 A good source to learn about Lansford Hastings plan to set up post-Civil War colony in Brazil for Confederates This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N.
The Great Platte River Road, the Covered Wagon Mainline via Ft. Kearney, by Merrill J. Mattes, University of Nebraska Press, 1969

View online (Google)

This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N.

California Wagon Train Lists, Vol. I (April 5, 1849 to October 20, 1852, by Louis Rasmussen Information and/or photocopies from the book may be obtained by contacting the San Francisco Historic Records, 1204 Nimitz Dr, Colma, CA 94015This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N with prices ranging up to $57 for a hard copy.
The Diaries of Peter Decker, Overland to California in 1849 and life in the Mines, 1850-1851, edited by Helen S. Giffen, The Talisman Press, Georgetown, CA, 1961
This is a RARE BOOK in original form.  Try
Copies may also be found on Amazon typically starting at around $26.
The Overland Diary of James A. Pritchard from Kentucky to California in 1849, edited by Dale L. Morgan, The Old West Publishing Co., 1959 This is a RARE BOOK in original form.  Try www.alibris.comCopies may also be found on Amazon typically starting at around $44.
The Detestable Voyage, by Henry Jackson McCord Description of trip by boat to California by Henry McCord and Daniel Hastings (ancestor of Julie Hastings-Barnes).   Excellent description of life on shipboard, weather, dates, etc. Private printing: contact Ronald J. Ballou, Bookman, Fine Quality Used
and Rare Books ( also be available via the William L. Clement Library at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (
The California Trail, An Epic with Many Heroes, by George R. Stewart, Univ. of Nebraska Press, 1962 & 1983
Description of trail’s year-by-year changes. This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N with prices typically starting around $21.There is also a Nook version.
The Lost Colony of the Confederacy,  by Eugene C. Harter, Texas A & M.,  University Press, 2000.
Available via and B&N with prices typically starting at $12.

Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey, by Lillian Schlissel, Stockmen Book, New York, 1982 & 1992 This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N with prices typically starting very low and then ranging up $105.
The World Rushed In, The California Gold Rush Experience, by J. S. Holliday, Simon and Schuster, 1981 View online (Google)
The Oregon Trail, Yesterday and Today, by William E. Hill. The Caxton Printers, Ltd., Caldwell, Idaho, 1994 Contains maps, guides, diaries, journals, drawings, and recent photographs. View online (Google)
Roaring Camp, The social World of the California Gold Rush, by Susan Johnson, W.W.Norton & Co., NY, 2000 This can usually be found on Amazon or B&N.
Maps of the California Trail, published by Patrice Press Very good maps to tract the trails.

Land and Property Research in the United States, by E. Wade Hone Excellent book for researching property recordings across the United
Available via and B&N with soft copy prices typically starting around $35.

New England Captives Carried to Canada 1677–1760, by Emma Lewis Coleman This book has info about Eliphalet Hastings — a Waltham man and TH descendant who was captured during the French and Indian War  Available via Heritage Books   ($60)
Full Duty, Vermonters in the Civil War, by Howard Coffin, 1993.  376 pages. This exhaustive book gives great background on the raising of Vermont units as well as their commendable performance during the war.  Mr. Coffin was the Press Secretary to the late Sen. James Jeffords, (I-Vt.)
This can be found on Amazon or B&N with prices typically ranging from $4 to $15.

1603-1630, The English People on the Eve of Colonization, by Wallace Notestein, 1954 (1962 reprint).  302 pages. A very thorough and readable book that provides excellent context for the era.
This can be found on Amazon or B&N with prices typically ranging from $32 for soft copy to $42 for hard.

The Ancestry of Eva Belle Kempton 1878-1908: Part I The Ancestry of Warren Francis Kempton 1817-1879, by Dean Crawford Smith and edited by Melinde Lutz Sanborn (Boston, 1996), pages 224-233. This genealogy touches fairly extensively on the Cheney’s and thus by extension the Hastings. This hard back is believed to be out of print but there is a limited supply of unsold (new) books.  Used copies can range all the way to $140.This can usually be found on Amazon with prices staring at $60.