AncestorNews: Sources for Hunting Down History

If you've been reading my AncestorNews items for long, you know I'm a history buff and always have been. I think this stems from growing up with a grandmother who kept me occupied for hours with family tales. My favorite, of course, was the one about her father being born in the garden the night the family farm was burned down during a Civil War guerrilla raid!

As you've probably discovered, if you're going to do family research, you'll need to become an historian. For me, part of the fun is reading about historical events that took place during my ancestors' lives, and reading about their local history. And you might be surprised at the types of books that contain this type of information.

For example, on my bookshelf is Wyoming Historical Markers and Monuments. This is basically a book that a Wyoming tourist might use. If you have Wyoming ancestors or family who traveled through Wyoming, there's a chance of finding some fascinating history here. One of the entries, for instance, is the inscription on a marker which was erected in 1935 "in honor of the Mormon Colonists of the Big Horn Basin who, under the leadership of Abraham O. Woodruff, first camped near this site in May 1900." Did your ancestor travel with Woodruff? If so, wouldn't a photo or a description of that marker be a great addition to your family history?

Have you thought of visiting a local historical society and looking through old newspapers? Get a copy of the front page from the day your great-great-grandmother was born, then scan it into your pedigree software. What sources have you used to hunt down history? E-mail me—I'm always looking for new research sources.

The History Channel

Civil War History

Colonial America Resources

Frontier History

American and British History

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