Bibliography of Social History Books

An abundance of print resources are available to help you locate social history background for your family history. This bibliography offers a wide variety of helpful books to get you started. This is by no means an exhaustive list but merely offers suggestions to get you thinking about the many books that will help you to learn about the time and place where your ancestors lived. Many of these books are available at your local library, favorite bookseller, or online at

Allen, Frederick Lewis. Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2000. ISBN 0060956658. Prohibition. Al Capone. The President Harding scandals. The revolution of manners and morals. Black Tuesday. These are only an inkling of the events and figures characterizing the wild, tumultuous era that was the Roaring Twenties.

Earle, Alice Morse. Home Life in Colonial Days. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2009. ISBN 144999718x. A lively account about the daily customs of the people of pre-Revolutionary America filled with a fascinating description of everyday life: the chores, tools, dwelling places, foods, and sights and sounds.

Erbsen, Wayne. Manners and Morals of Victorian America. Native Ground Music, 2009. ISBN 1883206545.This book details the norms of etiquette of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in America.

Foy, Jessica H. and Thomas J. Schlereth, editors. American Home Life, 1880-1930: A Social History of Spaces and Services. University of Tennessee Press, 1994. ISBN 087049855x. This book moves beyond the study of buildings to the study of behaviors, particularly the behaviors of people in the middle-class, single family, detached American home.

Green, Harvey. Uncertainty of Everyday Life: 1915-1945. University of Arkansas Press, 2000. ISBN 1557285985. A chronicle of American life between the two world wars that examines the impact of change on daily life.

Kammen, Carol. On Doing Local History, Second Edition. AltaMira Press, 2003. ISBN 0759102538. Kammen introduces her readers to the excitement and varieties of local history. She writes from her experience as a historian, showing how to use history in a way that is clear, engaging, and interesting.

Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You, Third Edition. AltaMira Press, 2010. ISBN 0759113009. A comprehensive handbook on investigating the history of your community, family, local institutions, and cultural artifacts, Nearby History guides you in researching the world close at hand.

Schlissel, Lillian, Byrd Gibbens, and Elizabeth Hampsten. Far from Home: Families of the Westward Journey. University of Nebraska Press, 2002. ISBN 0803292953. In a study of the westward movement, the authors examine the bitter history of three migrant families—everyday people who lived on the western frontier in the 1800s.

Sturdevant, Katherine Scott. Bringing Your Family History to Life Through Social History. Betterway Books, 2000. ISBN 1558705104. A great handbook for any genealogist who wants to learn how to bring the world of local and social history into their genealogy. Each chapter is enhanced with examples, tips, charts, and checklists.

Sutherland, Daniel E. The Expansion of Everyday Life, 1860-1976. University of Arkansas Press, 2000. ISBN 1557285969. A richly detailed, absorbing portrait of the daily life of Americans before, during, and after the Civil War. This period was characterized by the completion of the first intercontinental railroad, the westward movement, and a gradual shift from farms and villages to cities and towns.

Skyhorse Publishing. 1897 Sears Roebuck and Co. Catalogue, Reprint. Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1602390630. What better way to learn about the clothing our grandparents wore or the appliances they used or the tools they purchased than to peruse the Sears catalog. Most homes in America had one.

Taylor, Dale. The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Colonial America: From 1607-1783. Writers Digest Books, 1997. ISBN 0898799422. Learn about the characteristics of each colonial region (climate, religion, politics, geography), what the colonist ate, family life customs, fashion, occupations, and more in this manual. This book provides a wealth of background information that helps to build lives around your ancestors.

Tunis, Edwin. Colonial Living. John Hopkins University Press, 1999. ISBN 0801862272. From New England to New Amsterdam to the southern colonies, the author looks at social history topics that discuss every aspect of the lives of America’s early settlers.