One of the best items to have with your family history is about the hometown where the family lived and worked. You might already have some family photos showing the main street, the shop owned by the grandfather or the house the family lived in. Another source is to search for postcards of these hometowns, found in flea markets, eBay auctions, postcard collectors and antique shops.
However, you might be fortunate in that a book is already published containing images of the family hometown along with descriptive captions about each photo and information on some of the outstanding citizens, businesses and places in the town. The book publisher, Arcadia Publishing out of South Carolina, has successfully been gathering and publishing a series titled ‘Images of America‘ centered around the small and big towns across America using photos, generally unpublished images.
After over twenty years of recruiting local historians in American towns to gather the photos and write the captions, there are now some 7,429 books and more in the coming months. The variety is endless. In some cases there was so much to cover on a specific town, there is a second book titled ‘Revisited’.
Each book has 200 or more photos, many times images never published anywhere. It is like having a time capsule of the town, covering many years, some of which may have been when your ancestors lived there.
You can search first by state names and then go through the list to see if a town or a county is listed you are searching. Besides the 50 states, also in the series is British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario in Canada as well as Washington, D.C.
Some examples of numbers include for Illinois there are 310 different books, in Ohio 292, in Virginia there are 185 books and in Texas there are 285 books. Each unique in the material and the photos it covers.
Another place to look on the Arcadia Publishing site is with their ‘Postcard History Series‘. Here are 745 books featuring postcards of locations across the country. Same idea, you can search by state names for counties, towns or unusual unique features found in that state, such as the mountains featured on postcards in Pennsylvania.
The last one to showcase is titled series of ‘Then and Now‘ with 267 books available. It shows locations, streets, homes, and buildings as they once existed and how they look now. With written information on each scene it can be a fascinating view into a town’s past and present.
Photos: Loudoun County, VA, Oakland, NJ, Newport, KY and postcard series on Frederick County, MD.
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