Skip to Main Content

Family History for Kids

Local History

E. Sachse & Co., lithographer. Illustrated album of Baltimore City. Panoramic view of the city of Baltimore from the top of the Washington Monument. 1863. Popular graphic art print filing series. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Your relatives' records were probably created and preserved on the city or county level. Schools and churches may have records of your family members.

Local records can provide detailed information on family relationships, an individual's profession, assets, and connections within his or her community. Engaging more broadly with the local history of a place where your ancestor lived, through area newspapers, photographs, manuscripts and local histories, allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the time and place in which they lived, their milieu-- e.g. what would main street have looked like when my great-grandmother was a child? What kinds of businesses were there? Did people use cars or horses to get around then? What do local news sources say about what was going on at the time in the cultural, social and political life of the community? What did a classroom look like then? A football game? The inside of a home?

Public libraries and local historical societies often maintain special collections of biographies, histories, local newspapers, and genealogies documenting the history of a community. Check with your local librarians to find out more about any local history collections in your area.

Another way to learn the history of your home town is to learn about the house you live in. When was it built? Who has lived there? 

These books can help you learn where to look for local records and how to use them.

The following titles link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Your local librarian can help you find them. Links to additional online content are included when available.

We have provided links below to selected online collections from the Library of Congress that you can access from home to potentially find materials - newspapers, photographs and maps -- documenting the history of your community. There are many libraries and archives at the state and local level building portals to state and local history resources such as these.

Check with your local librarians for their suggestions of online resources related to the history of your community. The Library's online guide: State Digital Resources: Memory Projects, Online Encyclopedias, Historical & Cultural Materials Collections provides links to a number of these. Library staff are also in the process of creating a series of Local History resource guides by state.

The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.