Getting to know county history books

Are you a genealogist or historical researcher? Recently the Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society) posted a helpful article, “Getting to Know County History Books” (PDF, see p. 6).

Of course, Ohio histories are several decades older than the first published histories that appeared in Nebraska, but much of the article’s advice is also applicable to Nebraska sources.

Here are a few article highlights and other notes to improve your use of Nebraska county histories:

  • Check surrounding counties for information regarding ancestors and events that occurred before the present county was formally established.
  • Always verify a county’s founding date. If you are researching an event before the county was founded it might be recorded in the original county records.
  • As in Ohio, early Nebraska biographical books were sold by subscription and can be a good source of information.
  • Indexes in county histories may be incomplete or unavailable. At some point if the local history has been converted to a fully searchable digitized document the history will be easier to use. The NSHS does not have any local histories scanned or available on our website. Other individuals and organizations have posted various Nebraska local histories online; however, I estimate that 90-95 percent of the Nebraska local histories in our Nebraska history library have not been digitized.
  • The amount of local history material in our library varies from county to county, but we have something from all 93 counties. Check our online library catalog for availability of titles. We do not interlibrary loan any original library titles from our library. If you have questions about searching for material in our catalog, please contact me.

Cindy S. Drake, Library Curator

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