Family Bibles: a valuable source for a lineage society application

Many families become extremely difficult to trace in the early 1800s. Migration routes were opening across the United States. New European settlements may have kept land records, but they often didn’t have the resources to keep civil registration or easily store church records. Many of the records we would typically use to document birth, death, and marriage simply don’t exist.

The family Bible can help fill the gap. Family Bibles typically included a family register page that could be used to record births, deaths, and marriages. Most families completed it, and as Bibles were expensive – and cherished – they often handed them down to their descendants.

Unfortunately, these Bibles can be difficult to find today. Some are still in the hands of their original families. Others came to be a burden for descendants and were donated or discarded.

Where can you look to find those records that survived?

  • Descendants: If you have a family that’s active in genealogy, it doesn’t hurt to start asking questions. Someone may know where the Bible is held.
  • Genealogy publications: Don’t forget to check genealogy journals. Genealogists know how valuable a family Bible may be. Many have worked to have their family Bible details – if not images – published.
  • The collections of the Daughters of the American Revolution: Family Bible pages were often included in DAR applications. While they’re not in every application, you may find a surprise.
  • Local genealogy societies + historical societies: Some genealogy libraries, genealogical societies, and historical societies have a “Bible program.”
  • Your state archives: Some (including Connecticut) has programs to photostat or copy the register and title pages.

Not every Bible page will be usable for your application, but it doesn’t hurt to check!

Published by Bryna O'Sullivan

Proprietor of Charter Oak Genealogy, Bryna O'Sullivan specializes in assisting clients with lineage society applications and with French to English genealogical translations.

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