During the 1930s and '40s, Jules Chodak, the company founder, frequented book auctions and amassed a sizable collection of rare and out-of-print books pertaining to general Americana. He advertised his acquisitions in a series of catalogues and canvassed book dealers hoping to interest them in his hard-to-find titles. Trading as the Southern Book Company, he moved his office and stock out of his home to a location in downtown Baltimore, Maryland.
During the 1950s, Mr. Chodak's book dealership underwent two important changes. First, he narrowed the range and increased the depth of his interests from general Americana to genealogy, heraldry, and local history. Second, he went into the publishing business to accommodate the demand for out-of-print titles. In 1952, the Southern Book Company published its first book, the reprint edition of William M. Clemens' Virginia Wills Before 1799. The reprint segment of the business grew, and in 1959 Mr. Chodak changed the company name to the Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc. (GPC). By the time of Mr. Chodak's death in 1969, publishing revenues were on par with sales of old books.
Over the next twenty years, GPC completed its metamorphosis to that of a specialty publisher. It ended its book dealership and liquidated its inventory of old books. Under the direction of Barry Chodak, Jules's son, and managing editor Michael Tepper, GPC emerged as the leading publisher of genealogical reference books and research manuals. Its 1973 publication of Val Greenwood's Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy set the standard for commercial book publishing in genealogy. Revised and updated through three editions, this work continues to be the reference book that U.S. genealogists reach for when they need assistance! Each year GPC publishes as many as forty original works in genealogy, written or compiled by experts in the field; it also reprints dozens of genealogical classics. Typically, GPC's emphasis is on early American genealogy, especially the colonial and federal periods.
Clearfield Company was established in 1989 to market and distribute GPC's overruns and remainders. Since the early 1990s it has also published original and out-of-print titles that have a slightly more specialized focus in the fields of genealogy, local history, folklore, and Americana. Clearfield publishes more than 200 titles each year, and it has made available more than 750 discount reprints that otherwise would remain out of print.
Our hope is to make as many of GPC's and Clearfield's publications as possible available on this site as eBooks, so check back frequently to see what new eBooks are available. Also be sure to check our website www.genealogical.com, which features a catalog of more than 2,000 books and CDs.