Saturday, February 4, 2012

Shopping Saturday - Ebay and Genealogy?!

For years I have used Ebay as a resource for genealogy. Besides the obvious - books, it can be used for so much more. In the days before Google Earth it provided a great resource for vintage pictures of my Italian ancestral home towns. I learned early to check both the American Ebay and Ebay Italia for rare books and found many old postcards in these searches. On Ebay Italia I even found a postcard of a small country store run by the Zingone family in Montalto Uffugo. I knew exactly who this family was! I also found a historical document from the neighboring town of Rende that would have been posted in the town and throughout the area as well as mailed to other officials throughout Italy. The letter was a plea for help after an earthquake to outsiders and a notice of comfort to the citizens that help would be coming soon. This original historical document described the destruction and even gave a precise time the earthquake stuck. I was able to purchase it for a very modest fee and put it on my website to share with anyone with roots in the area. This letter gave me a insight into the suffering of my ancestors.
I have also been able to use Ebay for my American roots as well. For those with early American roots it is possible to read about our direct line ancestors in a multitude of books as well as the early days of the towns they settled. These books are (naturally) available for sale on Ebay but so much more can be found. Early post cards offer images of places our grandparents and great grandparents lived as it looked in their lifetimes. I have even found postcards of ancestors homes. Since most of these postcards (if they are truly vintage) are copyright free, they can be used on your websites and scrapbooks. Artwork can also offer views of towns that go even further back in time and if you are very lucky, you may find vintage portraits or photographs of family members. Vintage letters and envelopes can also be found that were addressed to or written by someone's ancestors. Perhaps it was yours?


  1. Great ideas. I also check for photos, military memorabilia and more. In small towns, you never know!

  2. I never thought about using ebay for genealogy, what a great idea. I just saw a letter for sale of a 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillary solider from the civil war. That item was far too expensive for me, I'm certainly encouraged to look some more...

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  3. Thanks for this, some great ideas that I hadn't thought of!