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How much is that book there in the window?

Advice on searching for books for sale about your family or places of interest, in the U. S. and overseas.


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Resource: GenWeekly
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How much is that book there in the window? . . . . the one with the family tale? OK , so much for sing-songs out of my childhood (Doggie in the Window, for those inclined to look up the reference).

So, how much is that doggie--or book, with the family information and local data that you might want to research? You would be surprised at what you might find. Often there are family histories, local county histories, books about police, firefighters, brewers, etc. Often times there are pictures. I've written about that in the past.

First we'll talk about the USA, and then a little about overseas.

How do you get information about books and materials for sale elsewhere? Many times there are bookstores within libraries that carry local interest items, or these days, one of the big-box bookstore of national chains. You can see if they carry historical items for sale, which can mention your family.

Also try local historical societies. Try genealogical societies. Ask an appointed local historian if he or she has written a pamphlet or book. See if the cemetery or a church has a title. Write to a local library and ask them if they can make a referral for such a publication. Many items are produced and sold without ISBN's or other identifying information that librarians use to track books.

What about overseas? My experience there is limited to France and Germany, so those of you researching inn the UK will have to improvise. For France, I wrote to the Alsatian archives and the genealogical circle there, asking if they had titles on certain family names or about the village I was interested in. Back came the answers: yes, there were several books. As it happens, the NY city public library held them, and I was able to get photocopies sent. Since I can read several languages, I was able to find specific mentions of my family therein, and now have this information in English.

For Germany I asked for reference of places to buy town histories. I have several books that I bought in person, and have never been able to find online or via other means - yet I can hold them in my hand! Never give up. For some German towns, you can try the Zentrales Verzeichnis Antiquarischer Bücher. (ZVAB), the professional European catalogue of antiquarian books on the Internet. They have more than 10 million antiquarian books on offer from over 1600 antiquarian book dealers all over the world.

I tried one place of interest - Schaafheim. Two of the 47 hits were as follows:

  • Schaafheim - Geißler, Heinrich: Schaafheim. Heimatbuch einer hessischen Landgemeinde. Schaafheim 1949-1954. Teile 1 und 3 (von 3). 111, 75 S. mit Tafeln. - Mit handschriftlicher Zueignung des Verfassers! 26 euros - which is a great book that I own and that has definitive family information in it.
  • Kreh, Werner und Elsbeth: Schaafheim wie es früher war. Mosbach - Radheim - Schlierbach, Schaafheim Selbstverlag (1988) 216 Seiten, Pbd., zahlr. Abb., 26 euros - which is a beautiful book of color pictures of the village.

There are other sources, of course - this is just one place to search.

How do you search and purchase? You enter the place or name of interest. If there is a suitable result, then you can place an order on the appropriate web page. You can generally use a credit card, but not all dealers will accept them. Read the FAQ's on web sites to see what the rules are. They may also accept American Express checks or similar. You probably will pay several Euros for shipping. The dealer should let you know via email. The dealers operate separately, and there is no central shipping point. Generally the book and an invoice (if not credit card) arrive within two weeks. You may wish to try International Currency Express, Inc. (1-888-278-6628). Their service fee was $5.00 and the check should arrive at your home in 3 days or so. You then send the check directly to the book dealer instead of their bank.

As with all advice, your mileage may vary. This is a suggestion column, not a guaranteed instruction manual. But you can try to get materials from overseas which can aid your research, and you may be very happily surprised if you get a book with a lot of family information.

Good luck with your searching.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2005.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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