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* Finding previous research with local histories

Books about towns, counties, and regions were particularly popular in the late 19th century. Many areas planned to publish the local histories to coincide with the centennial anniversary of the United States. While they often gave the history of the development of the area, they usually included some information about the important families that lived there. Remember, though, just because a book contains information about a family that has the same surname as your family, it doesn't mean that the information in that book is about your family. In order to make a connection between your ancestors and the people mentioned in a local history, you must start with the name of an individual that you know is one of your ancestors and then find that individual in a family history. In addition, to make sure that the information you're adding to your family tree is factual, you should try to verify the information that you find in local histories.

To find a local history, you need to spend some time at a few libraries. Probably the best libraries in which to search are genealogy and public libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. In addition, you may want to check in larger libraries, such as state or university libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. If you are unable to go to those libraries in person, find out if they are part of an interlibrary loan system.

The Library of Congress and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both have extensive collections of published local histories. You can check the Family History Library catalog through your local Family History Center, and the Library of Congress staff will perform searches for books about a particular surname. Neither the Family History Library nor the Library of Congress lends bound books through the mail. However, many Family History Library books are on microfilm, and you can borrow those. Otherwise, you need to locate the book elsewhere or make a visit to the library. For information about libraries with a national focus, see the topic Libraries with a national focus, including LDS.

You may want to use an index to local histories to help you locate books that will be useful to you. The libraries where you conduct your research may have indexes to local histories. A good one to try is P. William Filby's A Bibliography of American County Histories.

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