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Beginning Genealogy Lesson #11a
Local Histories - Books

For Further Reading: Beginning Lesson #11 - Local Histories

When it comes to books, the usual and customary reference work on the subject is P. William Filby's A Bibliography of American County Histories. (1985), 1987. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN 0806311266.  From the publisher: "This comprehensive work provides a state-by-state listing of all county histories of any significance. For each is given information concerning the title, author, place and date of publication, as well as details of editions, reprints, and indexes. In all, it covers 5,000 county histories published to date."

In the past readers have questioned my recommendation of this book published in 1985/1987 for the most recent information on county histories. Quite simply, most researchers can accomplish their 20th century ancestral quest using family and vital records sources. We need help with pre-1900 research.  Many significant county histories were printed in the crucial post-Civil War time period of 1890-1910.  For this we are grateful that Mr. Filby's book spotlights the authors and titles of those books most likely to illuminate pre-1900 county and state development.

Locating a copy of these now antique publications mentioned in Filby's bibliography is a challenge.  You'll use online card catalogs in attempts to borrow them through inter-library loan.  However, genealogy libraries usually maintain their genealogy books, particularly the rare old titles in a reference section -- meaning you can only view them in person. Don't despair! Thankfully, Heritage Books is slowly but surely scanning for viewing on CD or in book format many of these older county histories. 

CASE STUDY: During various research trips to Pennsylvania, I have had to struggle to photocopy some of the pages of  History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches - J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope. Its a huge publication, perhaps 14" x 17" inches and a good 4 inches thick.  The first time I poured through it, I found clues for early PA (1600s) ancestors on a few of my lines. After confirming these clues using original wills on microfilm, I then discovered more surnames and towns in Chester County to search.  So I've had to wait one or two years each time until I get to Pennsylvania to look up the new names and localities in this book.  We simply don't have the title in our southwest Florida libraries.  Now that Heritage Books has reprinted the out-of-copyright book, I'm able to have my own copy. Of course the pages are smaller, the text is smaller, but I just updated my bi-focal prescription, so I am in business!

From Heritage Book's description: "History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches - J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope. Officially created by William Penn on November 25, 1682, along with Philadelphia and Bucks County, Chester County was one of the first established counties in the Pennsylvania Province. The first section of the book is a general history of the county dealing with such topics as: religion, education, agriculture, masons, mills, banks, judges, county officials, lawyers, doctors, etc. The second section of the book provides over three hundred pages of brief genealogical and biographical sketches of county residents. (1881) reprint, 782 pp., 2 vols., 8.5x11, illus., map, append., index, paper."

Genealogy book sales & publishing companies include:

Orem, Utah

See in particular Eugene Aubrey Statton's Plymouth Colony: Its History & People, 1620-1691 for a definitive review of extant records and a discussion of the lifestyle and belief system of the Pilgrims.

Boyd Publishing Company 
P O Box 367
Milledgeville, GA 31061
912-452-4020, Fax 912-452-6380

See such offerings as Wm. A. McClendon's Recollections of War Times. 15th Alabama, CSA,1905 and Laurence M. Hauptman's A Seneca Indian in the Union Army: The Civil War Letters of Sergeant Isaac Newton Parker, 132nd NY State Volunteer Infantry. 

Everton Publishing Company
Hyrum, Utah

Their Handy Book for Genealogists is a must.  They also have Cradled in Sweden and other books to assist Scandinavian researchers.

  Federation of Family History Societies 
Unit 15, Chesham Industrial Centre
Oram Street
BURY, Lancs BL9 6EN, England
Phone from UK 0161 797 3843. Fax 0161 797 3846
Phone from elsewhere +44 161 797 3843. Fax +44 161 797 3846

These revered  genealogy societies have published small booklets to give you the scoop on localities in the United Kingdom.


Genealogical Publishing Company
& Clearfield Publishing

1001 N. Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
800-296-6687, Fax - 800-599-9561

Undoubtedly the largest publishers of genealogy and history books in the United States. See such diverse offerings as John Greenleaf Whittier's Legends of New England (originally published 1835), John P. MacLean's An Historical Account of the Settlements of Scotch Highlanders in America Prior to the Peace of 1783 (originally published 1900), and Albert Bernhardt Faust's The German Element in the United States (with Special Reference to Its Political, Moral, Social, and Educational Influence.) originally published in 1927.

Hearthstone Books 
5735A Telegraph Road
Alexandria, VA 22303
703-960-0086, 888-960-3300
Fax - 703-960-0087

Includes J.G.M. Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee (1853) and L.W. Rigsby's Historic Georgia Families (1925-1928), 

Heritage Books
1540E Pointer Ridge Place
Bowie MD 20716
Fax - 800-276-1760 or 301-390-7153

This is the company with the early Chester County, Pennsylvania history book mentioned earlier in this article.  See also The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada by the United Empire Loyalists, 1784-1884 (originally published in 1885) and Lorenzo Sabine's Biographical Sketches of Loyalists of the American Revolution, with an Historical Essay (1885.)

Higginson Books
148 Washington Street
PO Box 778
Salem MA 01970
978-745-7170, fax - 978-745-8025

Of particular note: OVERLAND STAGE TO CALIFORNIA: Personal Reminiscences & Authentic History of the Great Overland Stage Line & Pony Express from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, by Frank A. Root & William E. Connelley. (1901), Chronicles of the Cape Fear River, 1660-1916, by James Sprunt (1916), and such titles as the History of Leeds & Grenville, Ontario,  from 1749 to 1879, with Illustrations & Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men & Pioneers, by Thad W.H. Leavitt (1879).

Picton Press
P.O. Box 250 Rockport, ME 04856
207-236-6565, fax - 207-236-6713

You'll love them for publications on 17-19th century New England and German ancestors such as The Correspondence of Heinrich Melchior Vol. 2- 1747-1752, THE DIARY OF MATTHEW PATTEN of Bedford, New Hampshire 1754-1788. (1903), and THE DANSBURY DIARIES: Moravian Travel Diaries of Rev Swen Roseen and others 1748-1755 in the area of Dansbury, now Stroudsburg, Pa.

  Southern Historical Press , Inc. 
PO Box 1267 
375 West Broad Street
Greenville, SC 29602-1267 
864- 233-2346,  fax - 864-233-2349

Willow Bend Books
65 E. Main Street
Westminister, MD 21157-5036

See also: Cyndi's List - Books: http://www.cyndislist.com/books.htm 

See also: Cyndi's List - Libraries, Archives & Museums: http://www.cyndislist.com/libes.htm 

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt     :)
Your friend in genealogy


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