In the late 1800s and early 1900s, publishing companies sent representatives across America to compile local histories and interview area residents. To finance the printing, representatives sold prepublication copies.
These volumes are sometimes called mug books. Those wanting to see their biography in print had to purchase the book in advance. Aside from the flattery adorning these biographies, mug books are often valuable sources for the genealogist. Interviewees were typically asked their full name, date and place of birth, names of parents (including mother's maiden name), name of spouse, names of spouse's parents, and names of children. Names of grandparents, siblings, and aunts and uncles are frequently found as well.
However, not all early local histories are actually "mug books." While some privately printed local histories published biographies, this information is usually brief and the genealogical data is limited.
This section of our website includes biographies gleaned from various volumes. Each biography identifies the original work.