Are you like me and didn’t inherit a lot of heirlooms or family history memorabilia? Did you know you can reclaim items from your ancestor’s past on eBay, Amazon and Etsy? WHAT!        I know, who would of thunk it! Ebay currently has 64,386 genealogy items listed! Ebay can be a great place to look for out-of-print books, genealogy records, family Bibles and histories and genealogy books on CD.

Martin O’Rear, Jasper, Alabama

Good for $1 in MDSE Only

Besides the obvious genealogy books to be found, there may be other treasures waiting to be discovered! This is my latest family history find, a $1 token in exchange for merchandise at Martin O’Rear store, in Jasper, Alabama. A search in Google Books, reveals Alabama Supreme Court court case with a Martin O’Rear owning a merchandise store in Jasper, Alabama.  And yes, I spent way more than I would of liked, but I did talk the seller down $50…but, can you put a price on family history treasures…well, apparently you can and I’ll pay it!

I’ve also purchased on ebay a watercolor of the house and street my ancestor lived on in Burlington, Iowa that hangs in my office and several family cookbooks from the town and time period that my maternal ancestors lived. I may not have had my grandmother’s recipes passed down, but I can find the recipes of their peers to give me a good idea of what they ate for supper.

Ebay isn’t the only game in town. While perusing Google Books I discovered that my 4th great grandfather David Rorer, who was responsible for giving Iowa it’s nickname “The Hawkeye State”, and was a respected lawyer, who wrote several legal books on railroad law that is still referred to today, was also quite the Renaissance man. Not only was he known for his homemade cherry cordial but he also wrote poetry. I found a book of his poetry on Amazon! Never would have thought to even look for my ancestor’s poetry on Amazon!

Another unexpected place to find family history memorabilia is on Etsy has a seller who has created a framed shadow box that included bullets, currency and pictures from a Civil War battle that my ancestor fought in.

How do you search for items?

While iIt is easier to search for ancestor’s names that are less common is the best place to start. Searching for my ancestor’s surname, Mossman brings up a bunch of “Master’s of the Universe” Moss Man that I have to wade through. Since I am looking for a Mossman Ukulele, (the Stradivarius of ukuleles for which my ancestor’s were known for), I narrow down the search by searching for “Mossman Ukulele” and find one for $5000… much more than I am willing to spend, so I save the search and will continue to check back.

Items to look for:

  • family Bibles
  • family histories
  • art work
  • books
  • postcards
  • schools attended
  • military
  • business
  • clubs and organizations

Search for counties and towns your ancestors lived it. Tons of vintage postcards available that not only represent the places they lived, but you might get lucky and find one addressed to them!

Search for events. Did they fight in any wars? Search for their regiments and battles. Were they Free Masons or belonged to a lodge? What about their religious affiliations, search the church or cemetery where they are buried. Did they have a hobby or talent, maybe you can’t find an originial item, but you can find a representative item that will allow you to make the ancestor’s story more real for your family.

I do a search on ebay, Google Books, and Etsy and also a plain old Google Search. I also found a photography of an ancestor on Pinterest that a distant cousin had posted! Pinterst is another place you might not have thought to search. So what are you waiting for?

Get Searching!