Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Women's History Month 2013: Images of America

Resources for Researching Your Female Ancestor, Day # 20

Local histories are so important to researching your female ancestor. Books by a publisher of local histories, Arcadia Publishing  should be consulted by family history researchers. Arcadia,  the publisher of the Images of America series, is a publisher that you may be familiar with.  Their Images of America books all have the familiar sepia cover sporting a vintage photo of some kind. These books cover communities throughout the United States.  Along with books that feature cities, there are titles that feature neighborhoods within a city as well those that cover groups, like the history of a sheriff’s organization, and even cemeteries.  Each book has about 200 photographs, largely vintage, as well as short narrative that details the era, history and people.

Arcadia Publishing offers their books for sale on their website. At their website you can search for a book  by keyword, zip code or title. Once you find the title you are interested in, following the link will provide you information about that particular book, and in many cases a link to GoogleBooks where you can “preview” the title.

While perusing a book’s index is always a great idea in research, it’s important to know that these books do not have a complete index.  It is up to the individual author whether they want to include an index and even those who do, are not given the space to index every name in the book.  Those books that contain a bibliography provide you with additional resources for researching your ancestor’s locality.

Often the authors of these books have  special access to the photos featured.  They might be an archivist at a museum, a member of a genealogical or historical society or similar organization. The author would be a good contact for learning about photos or people featured in a particular book.

Photos and illustrations contain  source citations.  These citations can provide you with information for accessing an image that is important to your family history.

I would recommend looking at the photos in these books very carefully.  In one case I was able to find my grandmother in a picture that didn't feature her face. Let me explain.  In the Snowflake  book, written about  the city of Snowflake, Arizona, there is a picture of two women holding up a signature quilt (each quilt  block features the name of its maker).  Because of my interest in quilts, I looked at the picture a little more carefully than normal and sure enough, my maternal grandmother’s signature was on one of the blocks. 

A careful examination of these books can help you learn local history, resources, and maybe net you a photo of your ancestor.


Smadar Belkind Gerson said...

What a lucky find Gena! I love the Images of America series and do look at them carefully. I would love to own one for every town my ancestors passed through, but have had to resort to the library! You are right that the deserve a very careful examination and often re-examination!

Gena Philibert-Ortega said...

They are a great resource Smadar that I think doesn't get enough use in the world of family history. I did write one of the books, Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra, and used a lot of genealogy resources. The images can really help researchers understand their ancestor's time and place.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting!