If you choose to research surname history or the history of your ancestors, chances are good that you're not alone. More than likely you have a distant relative who also chooses to research surname history and genealogy. Maybe there is a small-town genealogical society or Daughters of the American Revolution chapter that has published a history of the small town where your ancestors lived or a history of your ancestors. If someone else has chosen to research surname history and your genealogy, wouldn't you like to know about it? Wouldn't you be able to use the research they've done as a starting point? Of course you would! For that reason, you should start out your genealogical research by searching published family histories.
One of the greatest places to find published family histories is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake, where tens of thousands of published family histories have been collected. To see what published family histories they have, go to www.familysearch.org. Under the Library tab or the Search Records tab, click on Library Catalog. Then click on the button that says "Surname Search." Most of the search results will be books, although a few will be books on microfilm. You can view books and microfilms at the Family History Library in Salt Lake, or you can request it on loan at a local Family History Center.
Another genealogical library that collects published family histories is the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You can search their catalogue at http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/genealogy/index.html.
There are some published family histories, however, that have not been gathered into large centralized libraries. These books can only be found in small-town local libraries. If that is the case with a published history of your family, how will you even know that the history exists? The answer is simple. Search in a library consortium database, which searches the online catalogs of thousands of libraries across the nation. The best online consortium today is OCLC, or WorldCat, which you can find at www.worldcat.org.
And of course, don't forget Google. A basic Google search is truly invaluable, and if you research surname history on Google you'll also find that more and more books are being digitized and made available for free on GoogleBooks.
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