01 April 2013

Autographs -- Are you using them in your genealogy and family history research?

John Tew, in his blog Filiopietism Prism, recently had a post titled Why Start and Continue A Family “Autograph” Book?

John talks a bit about why you might want to start such a book and the history behind such books.

I had such a feeling of deja vu as I was reading his post?  Why does the idea of an autograph book seem to “ring a bell?”

Did I have one as a child?  I do remember getting one for my kids at Disney World so the characters could sign their autographs.

My high school and college year books have some similar characteristics in that I “collected” signatures in them.

And, the neat thing about this idea (whether I silence the bell ringing in my head or not) is that autograph books are another source of hand-writing and signatures.  Even if your ancestor’s didn’t have one, they may have signed the autograph book of another!  Additionally, they might identify those with whom your ancestors interacted – friends, associates and neighbors.  The more names we have the better our chance of learning all about our own elusive ancestors.

Have you found any autograph books kept by your ancestors or others in the community?

If not autograph books, something similar?

Were they helpful to you?

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  1. Thank you for the mention Diane!

    Your readers might like to check in at Heirlooms Reunited, a blog by Pam Beveridge. She has quite a collection of old Autograph Books and does the great service of stating on her blog where and when the books she has were created. She also is then provides an extremely helpful listing of the names of people whose signatures are contained in the books. The URL is http://heirloomsreunited.blogspot.com.

  2. I inherited a few autograph books from my mother and aunt and have made one into a reproduction book through an online print service. It has become a good way to share a single heirloom with the entire family; anyone can own their own copy and enjoy it without damaging the original.

    John's idea of creating a contemporary family autograph book is great. I can't wait to start one.

  3. Not only did my g-grandmother's autograph book have friends and family's signatures, it included a list of who attended her wedding and a list of the wedding guests and gifts. The names helped me to add to her family tree on her father's side. There was also a loving dedication from her father along with a poem written to her by her soon-to-be-husband. Priceless!