18 March 2009

County & Local Histories

A great source that is often overlooked are published County Histories. As a general rule when ever you are researching in the U.S., find the county histories for the areas where your ancestors lived. County Histories contain a wealth of information about the area, history, economy, politics and more. The first part of these books contains topical chapters including chapters for each township within the county. The last part of the book will contain biographical sketches of county residents. Residents had to pay to be included in the publication. If there is an index check it for your surname and any other surnames of those who married in and out of the family. Do not be disappointed if your ancestor did not have a sketch included. The real treasure is found in the text of early chapters. Using the history found in a county history can help to flesh out the lives of your ancestors.

The Family History Library has filmed many county histories and these are available on microfilm. BYU has a collection of digitized county histories located in the Family History Archive. Another resource for county histories is the local Historical or Genealogical Society, where your family lived.

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