Check Out Our Genealogy Blog »

Let Vintage Guidebooks Steer You

booklet-Hart-Hayes -- 1952Here is an idea of an often overlooked location to find information on an ancestor. Many hometowns since the 1920s, especially if they had some special attractions such as seashore resorts, fishing villages, hiking trails, nature parks, lake terrains, grand mountains, former mining towns, historical landmarks, etc. have produced over the years local guide books for visitors. Usually, there are advertisements in such booklets to cover the cost of distribution. If you had an ancestor with a business, no matter how small an enterprise may have placed an advertisement.  booklet-southern-1969

What a treasure to have located such a timely advertisement, one most likely created by your ancestor and also with additional information. Keep in mind, not just owners of businesses but associates, family members and employees can be featured. Most guide booklets and city directories are dated, so you have a time frame. Full names are listed and especially in guide books, will have photos of the business building or even better of the owner and their employees.

Sources for such guide books included the museums, the public library, the historical and genealogical society for an ancestors’ hometown. Never leave a stone unturned, there just might be something special there. Contact those locations by writing or by email or phone call and have someone do a search for you if you are out of town. Do offer to pay a fee or make a donation.booklet-boothbay summer 1931

Another place is with family members, see if someone has such a local booklet and either go through it or have them check for anything.

With the national eBay online auction there are scores of common everyday items that find themselves on the auction site. A good category to check is ‘collectibles’ and ‘antiques’.  booklet-ADS--19--1947

Related to this type of advertisement are ‘advertising cards’. Popular type of identification card (business card) that customers received from businesses, mostly done in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

booklet-ad card-1880sPhotos: Harts and Hayes -1952 in FL; TN, ALA, GA-guide book 1969; Boothbay in Maine 1931; ADS in 1947 booklet in FL; and Advertising card in 1880s in Denver, CO.

Related genealogy blogs:

Advertisements by your Ancestors

Think Outside the Box

Genealogy Gophers

Popular Culture Advertisements

< Return To Blog