You Mean We Have a Family Bible?
That’s what Billie Jean King said on an episode of PBS’s Finding Your Roots. I have a family Bible our church gave us as a wedding present, but no ancient family Bible that I know of. However, Bibles were used by our ancestors to record births, deaths, and marriages–just the kinds of details family historians are looking for. So chances are you have a family Bible. You just don’t know about it.
Where to Find Old Family Bibles
Ebay. It’s incredible how many old Bibles are out there. Another option is to keep your eyes open when you’re at antique and second-hand shops. But truly the chances of finding your family Bible are slim this way. Fortunately there are web sites and message boards seeking to reunite families with their Bibles. I admit I’ve never been lucky enough to find mine. I recently found a listing for a Myrick family Bible, but alas I could not make any connections with the names in the Bible or the location. But if you’d like to try, here’s the message board: http://www.usgennet.org/usa/topic/ancestors/b-found.html
I haven’t tried this. It requires a membership but will alert you when something shows up with your surname: http://www.justajoy.com Anyone tried it?
Here is a collection of Family Bible web sites: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~familybibles/
Did your family attend a church? Check to see if a Bible was donated there. Chances are they’d be happy to give it to you.
Genealogy centers or historical societies often have surname files that contain photocopies of information from family Bibles.
It’s Not My Family Bible
The most likely scenario is that you’ll be shopping and come across an old family Bible that is not connected to you. If you feel compelled to reunite it with the proper family, buy it and list it on one of these sites. I have never done this, but I think I would if I could afford it. We have several old family Bibles at our church that were donated over the years. Eventually someone in those families is probably going to want them. I think we need to help each other out and patch those connections back the way they belong, don’t you?
Why Family Bibles are Helpful
I recently connected with a distant cousin online. I told her I had never been able to find when my 4x great grandfather died. He is not her line, but she had a family Bible with the date written in, most likely by his sister. Sometimes these records are the only ones that have the information we are looking for.
Tell me the story of your family Bible.