Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Look for a Family Bible

An Antebellum era (pre-civil war) family Bible dating to 1859. From David Bell,
Some time ago I had one of my acquaintances come to me and ask for help with researching his ancestry. All he had to go by was a photocopied page from a family Bible. He knew his father's name but had never had any contact with him. The very limited pedigree on the Bible page gave his mother's family for only one generation, stopping with the names of his maternal grandparents. From that scanty beginning, I was able to trace his maternal family line back many generations and find almost a hundred people. Unfortunately, he is still looking for some evidence of his father.

One of the most persistent traditions from European countries is the that of keeping family records in a Bible. Although many Bibles containing valuable records exist, they are scattered across the world. Many are preserved as family heirlooms and some make their way into libraries, archives, historical societies and other repositories. The earliest Bibles to become available to individuals date from the 1600s, but Bibles that old are extremely rare and an early Bible can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. It was not until family Bibles became common that genealogical records began to be kept. By the 1800s family Bibles were common even among those who were otherwise economically disadvantaged.

Here is a sampling of the family Bible websites:

1 comment:

  1. Family Bibles can be destroyed, such as in house fires. In two different cousins' lines this happened, one in 1895 and one in 1964. Fortunately, in each case a person made a transcript of at least part of the contents.

    If one has or has access to these gems, it's most wise to make scans if possible, including of the title page(s), and also to carefully transcribe the contents. Backup is really important for these documents just as any other types.