One of my favorite genealogy research tools is something that can produce amazing results – - haunting used bookstores online. That’s where I’ve found incredible family tales that add flesh and blood to the names. The story I like best, hands down, is the one about how an ancestor shot a stove instead of a buffalo. You gotta love it.
One January, after writing about Moravian research in North Carolina, I went back to the online bookstores, in case there was a book that might be of help.
Instead of a book, I found a copy of a term paper written back in the 1930s that mentioned my own family. The term paper, in turn, had a bibliographic reference to The Moravians in North Carolina, originally published in 1857, reprinted in 2002 and 2010. These two reference works helped me learn more about the early Moravian settlements, as well as the cemetery where two of my family were buried.
Since I don’t live anywhere near the places many of my ancestral lines sprouted, being able to track down these locale-specific books online has been a blessing.
Old books—particularly those that detail the history of a town, village, or county—are priceless additions to your genealogy library. Even if your family isn’t mentioned, the old histories provide an amazing amount of insight into your family’s life and times.
Where to Find Genealogically Significant Used Books?
So, where do I find these treasures? My first stop on a Saturday afternoon’s browsing is always Abebooks , an umbrella organization representing thousands of independent booksellers from around the world. Use the onsite search engine to track down a book by author, title, or keyword. By the way—if you’re not sure a book even exists, try an advanced search for terms like “Hendrickson genealogy,” “Wilken family tree,” or “Shelby Indiana history.”
If you’re a U.S. researcher, don’t discount international bookstores—I’ve found two of my more precious historic books on the frontier West at U.K. booksellers.