Saturday, July 31, 2010

Treasures At Your Local Family History Library

It is amazing what you can find at your local family history library. You may think your small library may not have much to offer, other than the free access to pay database sites.  However, in researching an article for the Phoenix Family History Center Library, I was amazed at what other items are available for our patrons - especially published family histories.  Here's a few treasures I'd like to share with you.

1.  A book published in 1876, "Henry Dunster and His Descendants," by Samuel Dunster of Attenborough, Massachusetts.  I did confirm that this book is scanned into Google Books, but to think we have a hard copy from 1876 in our library is amazing to me.

2.  "Our Ellsworth Ancestors" - this is a book I am very familiar with, as many of my ancestors are in this book.  I first found this book on Google Books a couple of years ago, but I had no idea our library had a copy.  (To think I've been working in this library for 5 years -- shame on me!).  It was so nice to preview it and find color images of the Ellsworth crest, which I photographed for my history.

In fact, I actually found six different books that contained information on several of my ancestral lines.  I now have more resources to review to supplement my family history.

3.  One of my favorite finds, though, was a handmade book called:  "Autobiographies of the Six Allen Sisters."  Unlike the previous treasures mentioned above, I could not find this "book" anywhere on the internet or at  It was a wonderful book of the biographies of six Allen sisters, complete with a photograph of the sisters.  I wonder how many Allen descendants would like a copy of this book?  Looks like I need to scan and post it on the world wide web.

Libraries receive donations daily of books and published family histories left behind by descendants who don't appreciate their value.  Several might be self-published books such as the book on the Six Allen Sisters.  I suggest you consider a trip to your local family history center to see what might be available on your family; you'll never know what you might find.



  1. That sounds like a good idea of something to do. I called the library where my ancestors lived and they had a lot of things on microfilm but it was broken and they did not have the money to fix it.

    That is very sad. I did not ask about books, but guess I should go. I have been avoiding going because the town was once and thriving community and now is economically depressed area.

  2. Okay, I am trying not to be jealous. Our Ellsworths go back to Aylward in Canada.
    Good post with thoughts toward sources.

  3. You found the Six Sisters autobiographies book?!! I've been looking for that everywhere as I am the descendant of Rebecca Hannah, one of the six. I'm extremely jealous. Any interest in selling it? I think their story of going into the world on their own to support each other is quite remarkable. You are one lucky lady. If you want to contact me, write me at

  4. Hi Nathan - The book is in the Phoenix Family History Library's possession, but I am sure they would be willing to scan a copy to email to you. Contact the Phoenix Family History Library at:

    3102 North 18th Avenue
    Phoenix, AZ 85015-5811
    (602) 264-2825

    They are open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 to 9pm, and on Saturdays from 12-5pm. Mention that you read it on Irene Winterburn's blog (Jirene's Genealogy Tips).



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