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Local histories

What is a local history and what kind of information can I find in it?

A local history is usually a book about a particular town or county. Local histories were quite popular in the late 19th century. While they often give the history of the development of the area, they usually also include some information about the important families that lived there.

Where can I find a local history?

To find a local history containing information about one or more of your ancestors, you need to spend some time at a few libraries, preferably 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 may want to use an index to local histories, available at some libraries, to help you locate books that will be useful to you. A good one to try is P. William Filby's A Bibliography of American County Histories.

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