American History – SEARCH HINTS & Tips

African American history can be fascinating. Many of the African Americans settled down outside of America, in the Caribbean or even in the friendlier Northern States. When you come across an archive or a blog to research this topic then it’s imperative you know how to sift through vast amounts of data.

We know how hard and time consuming it is to find a hidden item that would pertain to family.  Old books can be a ‘hard nut’ to crack.  Below are some insights to old, original publications and some help aids.  Sometimes you’ve just got to take a chance with something, being pleasantly surprised.

Very old books were put together differently than modern books.  Usually the old books did not have an index.  For some of our CD’s, indexes have been made.  Indexes or not, our ‘Word Search’ feature will only search the descriptions we have entered into this site. It does NOT search all words in a publication.

If an event affected many people in an area, the early publications do not list the names of the entire population just as a book of today wouldn’t.  It may state something along the lines of ‘The first settlers here married into the xxxx family for many years’ and it may give further family information.  All early publications are different in their original formats and original indexes in the early time periods are extremely rare. With searches, be just as concerned on finding a location as you are in finding a person’s name as it may hold a surprise for you with a family member or event that you’ll know your family had to live through. As these books/publications are exact the early originals, the details can be really shocking.

Location or topic.

Some locations may refer to varied place names. Example: New England.~ LOCATION &/or TOPIC: Publications are sorted by topic &/or location. This is your best option for exact classifications, topics or locations. Any title specific to a surname is under the heading ‘Surname’. Titles can be very deceiving.  We suggest you DO use all three search features.


The best way to use the WORD SEARCH is to start with ONE word.  (Due to links, one page may show multi times.)Any names added to the site can be listed as (example) Jones, Mary; Mary Jones; or just Jones if that is all that is given in a book.

An example of a BAD search is ‘Mrs. Elizabeth R. Smith’

In reality the wanted ‘Smith’ family did exist in one of our publications, but they were published simply in the early day as ‘the Smith’ further giving a location to pinpoint the direct family and then many details were found.  The extreme details of the Smith family involvement in a large Indian battle wasn’t found by the searcher as they didn’t check for just ‘Smith’ or a location.  DO’S …- Search for a single surname with NO other name with it.  At times the old books refer to people as Mr., Mrs., Col., Gen., old, son of, may have first names misspelled or may refer to just the surname alone.- Do location searches.  Start with just a state spelled out and also try the state abbreviation.

Some publications may be under a heading such as “Eastern States” or ‘New England’ per the publication contents or title. – Check your spelling! – Be word specific and direct with word searches. Especially when dealing with African American History these techniques for archives are vital.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *