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Local Research Resources

Biographies in Local Histories

  • Biographical information is often found in state, county, and town histories.
  • Towards the end of the 19th century, began publishers soliciting short biographical/family histories from local founding families, offering to publish them in an upcoming local history. This then became an incentive for family members to buy a copy of the book.
  • Families represented were not necessarily prominent. Practically everyone living there, especially in the Midwest, counted as an early settler.
  • These biographies often start with the first member of the family to settle in the area, and detail their descendants at the time of publishing. They may tell where the family moved in from. Children's marriages often are given, with maiden names included.

Finding Biographies

  • The county Wiki page lists several county histories. It also lists local libraries, and societies which probably have copies of local histories.
  • Many histories are no longer under copyright and can be found in the following online, digitized book collections. Search with keywords "History" and "the name of your locality" (state, county, or town).
  • The FamilySearch library has extensive collections of these local histories. Many are digitized. Search the FamilySearch Catalog under your locality for the topics "Biography" and "History".

Comstock, Jim F. West Virginia Heritage Encyclopedia and the supplemental series. FHL fiche 6051350 FHL book 975.4 H26w, volumes 1-25

An index to biographical sketches in several hundred local histories and genealogies is:

Wardell, Patrick G. Timesaving Aid to Virginia-West Virginia Ancestors: A Genealogical Index of Surnames from Published Sources. Four Volumes. Athens, Georgia: Iberian Publishing Company, 1990. FHL book 975 D22w

Representative biographical sources at the Family History Library are:

Atkinson, George Wesley. Prominent Men of West Virginia. Wheeling, West Virginia: W. L. Callin, 1890. FHL film 1000648 item 3

Callahan, James Morton. History of West Virginia, Old and New. Three Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: American Historical Society, 1923.FHL book 975.4 H2c; Volume 1 on FHL film 1425634 item 4 Volumes 2-3 on FHL film 1698201 items 1-2 Volumes two and three are biographical.

Men of West Virginia. Two Volumes. Chicago, Illinois: Biographical Publishing Company, 1903. FHL book 975.4 D3; film 874390 items 1-2

Miller, Thomas Condit, and Hu Maxwell. West Virginia and Its People. Three Volumes. New York, New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1913. FHL film 1000646; book 975.4 H2mw Volumes two and three include family and personal histories.

Websites

West Virginia Biographies Project:  http://www.wileygenealogy.com/~usbios/wv.html

A History of The Middle New River Settlements and Contiguous Territory
http://www.kinyon.com/westvirginia/midnewriver/contents.htm