One of our recent assignments in the ProGen Study Group was to construct a locality guide. I had listened to explanations of them through the Research Like A Pro podcast and a few other places but never put one together. If you are wondering what a locality guide is, let me explain.
In the research process, after you craft your research question and have a general idea of the location and time period, you need to see what records are available. This is where a locality guide can help. You take a little time to construct a one-stop-shopping guide to the records where you want to research.
Since I have been working hard on my Krewson/Kroesen line, I decided to do my locality guide for Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That’s where most of my dad’s mother’s family started out.
Some items you might include:
Quick Facts – Bucks County was one of the three original counties in Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1682 by William Penn.1 Add any tidbits of information that may be interesting and come in handy later.
Online Research Guide – no guide is complete without a link to the FamilySearch Wiki: https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/Bucks_County,_Pennsylvania_Genealogy – you might also include Cyndi’s List, GenWeb, and The Family History Guide.
Maps & Geography – Library of Congress map collection, David Rumsey map collection, and the Map of Pennsylvania County Formations. Maps are wonderful to use for any project.
County Histories and Reference Books – Google Books has a wonderful assortment of county histories for Bucks County.
Laws and Government – it’s hard to understand the circumstances of your ancestors if you don’t know the laws that were in place at the time.
Archives, Societies, and Libraries – a handy quick list of genealogical and historical societies, libraries, museums, etc.
Record Collections – you might include bible records, cemetery records, census records, military, land, probate records, and vital records (birth, marriage, death).
Your locality guide can be for a state, county, or city – U.S. based or another country. It’s whatever you need it to be for the project you are working on. And as you find more you can always add to your guide in the future.
This assignment was not one of my favorites, but I think everyone in the group agreed that it was worth the effort. My locality guide for Bucks County was used on the first day of our next writing assignment, so it has already paid dividends.
Genealogy Tip: Take the time to make even a small locality guide. It will save you time in the long run.
1 Visit Bucks County Pennsylvania (https://www.visitbuckscounty.com/press-room/facts-figures/ : accessed 5 Sep 2022).