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    « Do I Need an ISBN or Copyright for My Book? | Main | Genealogists: Your Ancestors, or Your Descendants? »

    Family History: What's the Story?

    When we talk to people working on their family histories one question is, “Do you have lots of family stories?” Frequently the answer is, “No.” People have done a great job of compiling pedigree charts tracing various lines back many generations, beyond the facts in the vital records – births, deaths, marriages, census records, or court records – they don’t have much information about the lives of the people on the charts.

    To get beyond the facts recognize that ancestors were members of social, business, cultural, and religious groups in the communities in which they lived. Focusing research on the time and place in which an ancestor lived can reveal a lot about those groups and maybe the ancestor. Local, county and state historical societies are great resources. These societies have documents including local histories, business records, church histories, recollections and histories of local residents and families all of which may contain stories related to family members. Many local or state history societies have local newspapers going back many years. Even if they don’t provide specific references to ancestors, you can use the details about life in that time and place to add nuance to the facts you do have about a person’s life.

    The Library of Congress has many similar resources. To see if they might be pertinent to your research take a look at U.S. Local Histories in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography (1975).

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