American County Histories:
A Unique Research Resource

Accessible Archives White Paper

Executive Summary:

American County HistoriesCounty histories — publications that document and commemorate a specific region — represent a valuable information resource for patrons. They may be useful to the scholar chasing down a familial relationship for a particular historical figure, to the student researching an educational assignment, to the local authority seeking awareness of a particular population’s points of pride, need and understanding.

Those studying a local region have a broad diversity of available information resources. These may be found on the open web, as part of a university’s special collections, or via commercial services. The issue is not whether the user will find something useful, but rather how best he or she can tap into the specific resource best suited to task requirements.

Because so much information exists in both print and digital formats, examples of useful information resources are included here to provide a better understanding of the range of available materials. It is important that each be considered for appropriateness to the specific needs of the user, whether performing casual or scholarly investigation. That appropriateness may be determined through a sense of the scope of materials included in the resource, the available formats and the functional support for use (such as discovery, search and retrieval). 

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About the Author

Jill O’Neill is the Educational Programs Manager for the National Information Standards Organization (NISO). She has been an active member of the information community for thirty years, most recently managing the professional development programs for NFAIS (National Federation of Advanced Information Services). Her publishing expertise was gained working for such prominent content providers as Elsevier, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI, now Clarivate Analytics), and John Wiley & Sons. Jill writes for a diverse set of publications, including Information Today and the Scholarly Kitchen blog.