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View Diary: Researching Family History at the Library of Congress (42 comments)

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  •  Excellent diary (8+ / 0-)

    I'm interested in the county histories.  What kind of information might you find there?  Is it all technical stuff, like an almanac?

    What are the chances you could find something about your family in one?

    I'm actually just outside of DC, but I've done most of my research on Ancestry.com.  Do you think it would be of interest for me to hit  the LOC?

    Thanks for interesting info.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 08:53:07 AM PST

    •  Yes, (8+ / 0-)

      I think it would be worth a visit.  Weekdays are probably best.  Local histories have a list of family names in the index.  I have found that these histories were published to 'recognize' some of the more prominent family members in the area.  But, even so, many many names are often inlcluded in these local histories.  They are not technical at all, but in narrative format.

    •  We had a big break through (8+ / 0-)

      in our family search by finding a county history of Bucks County Pennsylvania.  

      Family lore had always said that one of my gggrandfathers had come west from Bucks County.   He had a German last name so that seemed reasonable but we didn't know much else.  

      He also had a very odd first name  - "Iron".   For a long time we thought that must have been a nickname and since we didn't know his real name we didn't research him or order any official records (death certs etc. on him).  

      Then one day my dad was frustrated by a roadblock in some research at our library and decided he needed to take a break and try a different branch of the family.  On a whim he went to the PA section and on the shelf was a "History of Bucks County".  The book was a series of biographies of "leading citizens"  and listed a family with the correct last name.  The biography of the listed gentleman listed all of his children including "Iron of St. Louis".  

      Of course we eventually managed to confirm that this really was my ggggrandfather. But it was a stroke of luck that saved months of research.   So I'm a big fan of county histories.

    •  County histories can be great... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      edwardssl, larmos, cka, Jane Lew

      but they also have drawbacks, especially the older ones.

      Older (late 1800s; many issued near or soon after the centennial, and/or as part of late Victorian passion for 'improving' an area's reputation ) many have vanity entries, submitted by local prominent citizens, so the information may or may not be accurate - depends on the submitter :-( Many also don't have indices.

      Lots of the 1876 (centennial) to 1923 (entry to public domain) histories are now on-line, which reduces the no index issue.

      On the other hand, they may get you a century or three/four generations closer to family stories/rumors/details......

      The worst sin - perhaps the only sin - passion can commit, is to be joyless. (Gaudy Night, Dorothy L. Sayers)

      by mayim on Wed Mar 02, 2011 at 12:19:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Amen to this. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        edwardssl, mayim

        I trip over county histories all the time on the web. I usually find them through the county historical sites or when I Google a person's name with a location.

        With libraries I have a preference for open stacks; I feel I waste so much time with written requests.

        As it is I don't go much to libraries anymore as there is so much available in my own home at all hours.

        The other thing that keeps me away is the trend of libraries to treat everyone like probable thieves and vandals; this  is extremely annoying to me as I would never do what they imply I might do.

        If I am forced to write with one of their dull messy pencils, I would rather work elsewhere.

        "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." The Little Prince

        by Jane Lew on Thu Mar 03, 2011 at 04:48:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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