I have used such words as massive, voluminous, gigantic, thorough, exhaustive, and enormous to describe books before. However, these words may not do just for The Compendium of American Genealogy, a seven volume set. This massive work may not compare to the Encyclopedia Britanica, Wikipedia and online references, or the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (sorry, fictional pop culture reference); however, this seven volume set does comprise 6,283 pages, making it massive work for a genealogy.
Published between 1925 and 1942, this work represents an collection of genealogies for America’s first families, dating from 1790 through living representatives at the time of publication. Every lineage extends 8 to 9 generations. This project was an effort to compile a national genealogy before the population got too large to allow for such. That said, what may have really spurred the project along was war.
“It remained, however, for the catastrophe of the greatest war in history to impress upon many thinking people the need for an authoritative work containing the lineages contemporary Americans…”
While not all families are represented, almost every name distinguished in any way in the early history of the country will be found within its pages.
“The Compendium was compiled largely from lineage records and manuscript genealogies submitted by individuals selected for inclusion, many illustrated with photographs, portraits, and coats of arms. Each record was checked and edited, then typed up in the form of a “proof” and returned to the submitter for final review before ultimately being printed in one of the volumes. Thus prepared at great expense of time and labor, and with painstaking care, the seven massive volumes contain more than 54,000 lineage records, with indexes listing upwards of 425,000 names, making it, without doubt, the first reference and research source in colonial era American genealogy.”
So, the book is not small, and, in truth, the information is all available online. However, some people really like paper copies. The index makes it easy to find name within each volume. The set would make a nice shelf collection for any library. Considering the overall price, and size of the set, it would be mostly libraries that would show an interest in this book. But I am sure any certain any public or family history library would gladly accept a copy as a generous donation.