Published histories contain information about individuals and are found in obituaries, biographies, local histories, and other published sources. Published histories can contain all sorts of interesting family and individual historical information. You’ll find out things like what their personal accomplishments were during their lifetime, where they lived, who they married, names of siblings and children, what their various occupations were and much more.
In fact a key source of information in my research has been a oral history (a transcribed history) left behind by a Great Uncle that I discovered in a family history library. Even though it is a handwritten, photocopied and hard to read – for the most part it provides enough clues for me to continue on with with my research.
The point I’m trying to make here is that I would have never known about the existence of this important piece of family history had I remained focused on looking only at census or vital records.
So how would you uncover this type of information? Well, first of all you need to find out where your ancestors lived. Once you know this, you can then start searching that local area for obituaries, local histories or historical collections that might contain your ancestors name.
One of the first places you should search are the indexes to local newspapers that might contain obituary or society sections. These section can contain extremely interesting useful information.
Another type of published history are “biographical histories”. Biographies of this type are found in local “Who’s Who” publications and other types of local histories.
Yet another source to consider are trade papers or magazines. These can contain articles and obituaries for a variety of trades.
One final note, these types of histories are more likely to contain typos and mistakes than records recorded at the time of an event like birth or marriage certificates, etc..
The reason for this is that certificates and other forms of legal documents are usually recorded at the time of an event with a witness at hand. Histories, on the other hand, are gathered from second or third hand sources.
For this reason, you should always try to verify the information you find in a biography with information in a certificate or legal record.
The following is a list of links from Ancestry.com that contain links to a variety of searchable biographical resources: