Autograph books were kept by Victorians and used to collect signatures and good will tidings. Sometimes these books can be a gold mine with the names of people as well as other identifying elements. These can be found in the private collections of family as well as in a manuscript/special collection of a library, archive or museum.
As I was researching and compiling my presentation for tomorrow on using manuscript collections, I came across this website, http://www.tc.umn.edu/~vanes002/gen/autogrb.html, with a digitized 1888 autograph book.
I love the inscription on page 2 of this little book (excerpted here):
Anna Bellmuth is my name Minnesota
is my station Brainerd is my dwelling
place and Heaven is my expectation
And when I am dead and in my
grave and all my bones are rotten
This little book will tell my name
When I am quite forgotten...
What a great piece of yesteryear to have! And what a great piece of family history to have that tells so much more than a few dates and places.