Interest in genealogy research has exploded over the past few
years. More and more people are questioning who they are, who
their ancestors were, and what can be discovered in their family
history. While genealogy is not a new concept, the rapid growth of
the internet has allowed researchers instant access to records
that would have taken weeks or even months to obtain in the past.
Not only are records becoming more readily available, but the
tools used to perform genealogy research are not as hard to find
as they used to be.
It’s surprising, but many genealogy researchers are overlooking
what may be possibly one of the best resources of genealogy tools
to be found anywhere – eBay online auctions. Think eBay is only
about designer fashions, the hottest toys of the year, and
collectible PEZ dispensers? Think again. If you’re serious about
researching your family history, you don’t want to overlook the
tools and resources that eBay online auctions can offer you. With
millions of people interested in genealogy and millions of people
using eBay, it’s only natural that the two would eventually come
Many people are surprised to find out that the eBay online
auctions site actually has a category dedicated to genealogy
research. What kind of items does the site have up for auction?
The genealogy category of eBay online auctions is broken down into
seven different subcategories. These subcategories include Birth,
Marriage and Death Records, Census Records, City and State
Directories, Immigration and Passenger Lists, Maps, Military
Records, and Other. There are anywhere from a couple of dozen
items to a couple of thousand items in each category.
The Birth, Marriage and Death Records subcategory of the eBay
online auctions site offers bidders the chance to bid on items
ranging from written histories of pioneer families to CDs
containing public records for certain areas during certain
periods. These items are relatively inexpensive. For instance, if
you’re looking for information on relatives that lived in Patrick
County Virginia, you can purchase a CD containing the death
records for that county from 1853-1870 for just $7.95 plus
shipping. CDs like this can be found at the eBay online auctions
for a variety of counties and states and include birth records and
marriage records as well.
The Census Records section of the eBay online auctions includes
items that can help you obtain data from various census records.
The census records are not limited to U.S. counties and states;
there are a number of international census records up for auction
as well. Since census data plays such an important part of
genealogy research, these eBay online auctions are a great
resource for finding the information you need to track your family
The eBay online auctions City and State Directories category
provides bidders with the opportunity to search and bid on a
number of directories from the 1800s and 1900s. These directories
often include county maps and details on the history of the
county. You can find directories in both hard copy and on CD. The
CD copies tend to be less expensive and easier to search, but if
you want original print material, you’ll want to bid on the books
that are up for auction.
When you search the eBay online auctions category of Immigration
Passenger Lists, you’ll find that it doesn’t have as many items
for sale as some of the other categories, but the content more
than makes up for that. You can bid on naturalization records,
immigration lists, Family Tree Maker passenger lists, and more.
Prices for these records are very reasonable, with the average
auction seeing a starting bid of less than ten dollars.
The maps section offers county and town maps showing surnames and
where each person lived within the county or town. You can buy
most of these maps at the eBay online auctions for about ten
dollars. Again, most of these maps are on CD, but you can obtain
some print copies of the maps. There are even CDs for sale that
have all of the counties in a given state on one disc. These CDs
will cost more than the county-specific CDs, but will give you
much more information. For instance, the CD for Indiana was
selling for about $35. For that amount the winning bidder got the
complete set of Indiana’s 1876 maps for each county. The maps
detail the railroads, the early homesteads, and more. There are a
number of resources like this available for other states and
counties on the eBay internet auctions site.
The military records category is another category that is smaller
in size, but great in informative value. Civil War records,
Revolutionary War records and World War I records can all be found
by searching the eBay online auctions. The resources in this
category aren’t just limited to traditional records; you can also
bid on personal diaries, letters and more.
The last, but largest, genealogy subcategory on the eBay online
auctions site is the “Other” category. This is where you’ll find
the latest tools and resources that don’t fit into any of the
other six categories. You can purchase genealogy research
notepads, family-specific genealogy charts that have been
completed by others with the same surnames, scrap booking guides,
instructional books, and more.
The key to utilizing the eBay online auctions to their fullest is
to use a combination of all of the categories together. Many
genealogy researchers have discovered just how valuable a resource
eBay has proven to be when it comes to providing them with
hard-to-find information. eBay online auctions also provide an
inexpensive alternative to the monthly fees charged by some
databases. Buy purchasing a CD containing all of the census data
you need in a specific area, you won’t have to pay a monthly
subscription to a site that hosts that information on their own
As more and more people explore their cultures and pasts, more and
more people are sure to flock to the eBay online auctions to both
share research and to purchase the tools needed for further
research. If you’re an avid genealogy researcher who hasn’t caught
on to the eBay trend yet, embrace the inevitable and start using
the site resources for all they’re worth.
Robert Ragan has been
actively involved with computers and genealogy since the 1980s and
has published the Treasure Maps genealogy email newsletter since
He has written
several guides and tutorials on Internet genealogy research and is
a former director of a Family History Center in Jacksonville,
Now Robert has
another valuable genealogy tool available to the genealogy world.
It is interactive, unique and completely free. You can take
Robert's free genealogy eBay online auction course at--