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The following article is a guest post from Rebecca Grimes of the HPL Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus. It is published in the July 2023 issue of the Clayton Crier quarterly newsletter. To subscribe to this and other History Research Center newsletters, sign up here.


By chance do you have ancestors who signed the Declaration of Independence?  How do you connect your genealogy line to these signers?  The signers of the Declaration of Independence came from the original 13 colonies of the United States which were:  Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York State, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Virginia.  There were a total of 57 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence.  In this article we will be looking at two individual volumes and a seven volume set of books found in the Houston Public Library’s Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus about these men.  Hopefully, these books can offer insight in connecting to your historical ancestors who made a huge impact on the founding of our country.


Lives of the signers to the Declaration of Independence by The Rev. Charles A Goodrich. (973.3 G654 USA)  Since this book was written just 53 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, it doesn’t give you any ancestors or descendants of the signers.  It does give you a little information on how these men became to be signers of he Declaration of Independence.  Great information can be obtained from this book about the signers’ background and what they achieved in life.


The Signers of the Declaration of Independence: a biographical and genealogical reference by Della Gray Barthelmas. (923.273 B285 USA) This book lists in alphabetical order the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  A bibliography is given about the life of the signers with genealogy information about them.  It gives information about who they married and can give information on their children also.  The genealogy information is sometimes a little bit confusing since it is not given in the form of a genealogy chart.  In the back of the book in an index, selected biography, and an appendix.


Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence by The Rev. Frederick Wallace Pyne. Volumes 1-7 (973.313 P997 USA)


V. 1:  The New England States (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island) (2nd Edition)
V. 2:  New York State
V. 3:  New Jersey
V. 4: Pennsylvania
V. 5: Delaware and Maryland
V. 6: Virginia
V. 7: Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.


This genealogical register set contains genealogical information about the descendants of the signers only, not information about their ancestors.  In the interest of making this as complete as possible all descendants have been included: those who died young (dy), those who never married (unm), and those who married, but never had issue (children).  To find a descendant you must know the name of someone you believe to be a descendant of a signer.  Look in the every-name index at the back of the volume to find the name of that person.  There is a table of contents to each book that goes by state and tells you what signer or signers were from that state.  This is an excellent set to use because it starts with the first generation and can have information forward for multiple generations.


These books and family histories of some of the signers can be found at the Family History Research Center and hopefully they will be helpful for researchers trying to connect to an ancestor who signed the United States Declaration of Independence.  To search for these materials using the HPL catalog use the keywords “Declaration of Independence” in quotes. Remember after your search, limit your search using the filters to “Family History Research Center” to get the items that are located at our location.

HOUSTON - The Houston Public Library (HPL) announces that its current special collections libraries now serve under the new banner of HPL’s History Research Centers. The Houston History Research Center, formerly Houston Metropolitan Research Center, was the first HPL special collections library; the Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library Campus, was established in 1968 as the Clayton Library for Genealogical Research; and the African American History Research Center was known as the African American Library at the Gregory School since 2009. 

The respective archives and origins of the History Research Centers are unchanged. The former Gregory School located in the historic Fourth Ward stands as the African American History Research Center (1300 Victor St.), devoted to documenting the Black experience in Houston and beyond. The Julia Ideson Building (550 McKinney St.), home to the Houston History Research Center, anchors the dual history of HPL and the city with a repository of architectural drawings, Hispanic Collections and an expansive local photographs and audio-visual collection. The house that William Lockhart Clayton built is synonymous with genealogy and family history research. The Family History Research Center at the Clayton Library (5300 Caroline St.) has grown to be among the top of its kind in the nation, with resources freely available in-person and online. 

Dr. Rhea Brown Lawson, Director of the Houston Public Library states that with this renaming, the Houston community and visitors stand to gain a greater understanding of what can be found at the History Research Centers. “The History Research Centers are wonderful destinations that will appeal to anyone wanting to discover what’s hiding in plain sight.” 

Remarking on what the public can expect, Angela Kent, Head of History Research Centers, notes, “While HPL’s special books collections and archives remain housed at their current locations, we hope that visitors can recognize and come to know all the things one can see and do at the History Research Centers. We link people to history.” Individuals and groups can tour the historic buildings, view exhibits and attend library programs, while also continuing to access and research HPL’s rare and unique special collections and archives.  

HPL’s History Research Centers are open to the public Tuesdays through Saturdays. For more information visit:

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