Making of America - 19th Century

Fayette Co. PAYou may have a long line of ancestors who were born, marriage and lived during some part of the 19th century (1800s). There is a web site, “Making of America” that concentrates on just that time frame. With some 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles with 19th century imprints, all in a digital format. Much of the material is from the University of Michigan and Cornell University. The vast majority of information covers the social, political, cultural, and historical aspects in America between 1850 to 1877.

You can use the basic search box, place a keyword or phrase and the broader the topic the more results. For example “Civil War” had 30,548 records. For each listing the title and date are provided. Clicking on ‘results details’ will prove a listing of each page in the book, journal, directory or record for the searched topic. You can then click on that page for a full-size digital image. Just like would be in any book or journal, many have photos with them.

Using the advance search box, you could narrow the search a little bit.

Now there are many pages for any topic or surname you search, so you would need to plan a fair amount of time searching. For less common surnames the list is smaller. The surnames for example “Kershaw” had 249 listings, “Groff” had 113, and “Luckhardt” had 10 listings. Also search for hometowns and see what is available. The town of Frederick, MD had 69 listings, Grand Rapids, MI had 595 listings and Columbia, SC had 190 listings. Keep in mind the town did need to exist in the mid-19th century. However, it only take a couple good sources to be beneficial in putting together you family tree.

You can find many good write-ups on men of business, politics, or military along with more ordinary general citizens. All were written about in the 19th century, so making them a little more accurate than if written a hundred years later. A good example is the book “Old Merchants of New York City” written by Walter Barrett in 1885.

So here is another resource to check out.

Photo: Illustrated History of Pennsylvania – Fayette Co. done by William Henry Egle in 1876.

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