Early Family Histories

Some of the best research sources you can ever find are the published pages of family histories done by individuals many years ago. When someone wanted to gather the family lineage and tales, they had to go to the courthouses, churches, cemeteries, other family members, write letters, etc. to gather information. With many written in the last half of the 19th century into the early 20th century, many of those family members which we now regard as distant ancestors were the heart and sole to providing vital, first-hand information. So there can many facts and records contained in those early family histories. Only be warned, just like today, there can also be some mistakes, wrong names and dates or even a lineage that does not belong, so be careful.

The FamilySearch.org has thousands of family histories done in numerous time periods. Most have been placed on microfilm and can be read at the Family History Centers across the country. One of the earliest family histories I read when starting my family’s research and from which I gathered a full notebook of notes was on the History of the Everhart family done in 1883 by Dr. O. T. Everhart of Maryland. His research had started in the 1870s, so he had actual family members who dated back to the early 1800s on which to confer with. That was a wonderful resource. So the first place to check for any family histories is the Family History Center.

Now available online with the HathiTrust Digital Library is a collection of genealogy booklets and family histories. This collection titled ‘Ancestry and Genealogy‘ has 2,760 items, with 2,712 that can be fully viewed online.

In addition to family histories are the various annual volumes of the American genealogical-biographical index. This is also viewable fully and is in the public domain. In the collection are the lineage books from the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). These help you trace any ancestors who were soldiers or patriots during the American Revolutionary War of the 1770s-1780s.

Besides reviewing over the vast selection, there is a search box at the top. So you can place a surname and the click on a certain book and then highlighted in yellow with all the references to that surname in that booklet or book. Just click then on the page listed for the full viewable material.

This does take some work and patience, but just might help provide the missing link to a line of ancestors.

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