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What are Compiled Records?

Compiled records consist of records assembled together around a particular surname, subject, or location in various formats. This lesson will cover several forms of specific compiled records covering the topic of colonial immigrant origins. These will include:

  • Family histories
  • Genealogical dictionaries
  • Periodicals
  • Research collections
  • Emigrant group publications

When these compiled records include sources and/or they outline clues used to come to various conclusions, they can save a researcher much time and energy.

Family Histories

Family histories are book-length discussions of a family's genealogical connections. Generally they are one of two types. Most early family histories traced the male (surname line) descendants of a specific person (often an immigrant). In recent years, an increasing number have discussed the ancestry of a specific person (often the author/compiler). In either case, immigrant ancestors are a significant part of these publications, for they either begin with one, or trace back to several immigrants.

An estimated 90,000 published, book-style family histories exist for North American families, at least half dealing with immigrants. Many, of course, are not colonial era immigrants, but if you descend from a very early immigrant, particularly from the 17th century in the northern states, there is an excellent chance that a published account (book or periodical article) of his descendants exists. At the beginning of that account will be information gathered by the author relative to the immigrant's origin in the old country. It may, or may not, identify his town of origin, but it will at least provide clues, and is the best single source of such information for many colonial immigrants.

Some compiled works focus specifically on immigrant ancestors of American families. Two representative titles were privately published by John Brooks Threlfall (in Madison, Wisconsin):

  • Fifty Great Migration Colonists to New England and Their Origins (1990)
  • Twenty-six Great Migration Colonists to New England and Their Origins (1993

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