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At the Library: Local Histories

Generally when we think of useful resources for genealogists, we think of the census, or vital statistics (births, marriages, deaths). These are the important sources. They help a genealogist track down the facts about his/her ancestors, and the OGS Provincial Library has all of these things in its collection. We have more in our library though and one thing we have that has not been mentioned so far is a local history collection.

We collect local history publications of towns all across Ontario. We have these books in the library for several reasons:

1. They’re useful for genealogical research: The history of a town is never complete without also talking about the people who lived there. If you’ve pinned your ancestors down to a particular area, you may find they have been mentioned in a book about that area. These brief details may give you enough clues to carry your investigation forward.

2. They make the past come alive: Local histories describe the lives led by the people living in the community over the years. Even if you don’t learn any details about your specific ancestors, a local history will give you a stronger sense of how they lived and what their community was like.

3. They can be rare: Local histories are often publications of community historical groups and committees. Their print runs can be very small which means that after awhile, it can be difficult to find a copy of the book.

The provincial library is the place to come for a rare history like that. You can find our local history collection by visiting our library catalogue  and searching in the TITLE or SUBJECT for the name of the town you want to know more about.

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