LinkConnector Validation

A Genealogist In The Archives

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Autograph Books: Facebook for Our Ancestors

Many of us enjoy Facebook everyday to keep up with our family members, connect with others researching the same surnames we are and to keep up with the latest news and events.

Autograph books at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Our ancestors used different mediums to connect with friends and family. One of those mediums were autograph books. Many of our ancestors had these types of books and filled them with signatures of friends, family, schoolmates and other people they came in contact with on a daily basis. Sometimes there was just a signature and other times there was a short message if encouragement, a poem or just a pleasant greeting.

Inside of Autograph books at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

These autograph books come in all shapes and sizes. Some were leather bound and others had different colored pages. These books were a type of "social media" back in the day and were very popular.

Autograph book page for Ruth McAuley dated 1893 at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives

These books were very popular with school children, especially graduating seniors to capture their final year of school and to record memories from their school friends.

Autograph book page for Shirley (Unknown) dated 1938 at the Houston County, Tennessee Archives 

Some of you may have an autograph book that belonged to your ancestor in your own personal genealogy collection. If you don't, it's possible there could be one located in a local archive collection, historical society or genealogical society collection.

Autograph book page for Ludelia Marable, Senior at Erin High School 1934-1935 at Houston County, Tennessee Archives

Autograph books will be located in the Manuscript Collection of a repository. They will probably be part of a larger collection of records. You will need to check the Finding Aid to the individual collection to see if an autograph book is listed as being in the collection.

Next time you are researching in an archives, ask if they have autograph books and maybe they will have one for your ancestor.

Remember: It's Not All Online, Contact or Visit An Archive Today!


  1. Found two in my late mother-in-laws things. Where might we find a place that we could donate these?

    1. Hello, Thank you for wanting to donate your items. Please email me at and I can discuss with you options.

  2. These are Wonderful. I know I had thought about doing this. Now I'm not so nervous of doing it now. I have to preserve my memories. I loved these books. I was always one to go and get autographs in my Youth. Thanks for this!

    1. Your so welcome! Can't wait for your blog posts about your experiences and your autograph book!