26 September 2010

Browsing the Archives: Bible Records

by Toby Webb

Between us, my father and I wasted over sixty years of genealogical research, trying to identify the New York City parents of the earliest Webb we knew. Our family Bible said that he had been born in New York City in 1797, but no amount of digging could find his parents there. How I wish I had seen the NGSQ (National Genealogical Society Quarterly) special edition on family Bibles (Volume 90, Number 4, Decemember 2002), which I recently stumbled upon in my review of the NGSQ digital archive. It speaks to the great value, but also the possible unreliability, of Bible records. Had I read the issue earlier, I would have placed far less trust in our Bible's earliest entry.

The issue opens with a nice historical piece by Jerome Anderson on the use of Bibles as one of several traditional recording places for family events. (Coincidentally, it was a suggestion from Jerry Anderson in 2008 that helped me finally break through my Bible-based brick wall.) Marsha Hoffman Rising then writes about ways to examine and analyze a Bible record so that the reliability and validity of its data can be judged. A series of articles from leading genealogists then demonstrates how different complex research problems have been solved with Bible records - even a case where there were no names in the Bible record at all, only dates!

This special issue on Bible records is another example of the valuable tools available to the new family historian in the NGSQ digital archive. It instructs, both with an overview and then with examples from the work of our most skilled fellow researchers. Download and enjoy!

Be sure to log in on the NGS website – or take this opportunity to join if you're not yet a member. Then choose the Publications and Videos tab, and click on NGS Member Periodicals.


  1. The reference given in this article seems to be incorrect. Volume 90 of NGSQ is 2002. Number 4 is December. The article by Jerome Anderson is on page 247 - if that's the one to which you are referring....

  2. Kay, thanks for pointing this out. I've corrected the date in the article.