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Volume I of Frederick A. Virkus's acclaimed seven-volume set contains 5,000 records, 10,000 lineages, with cross-references, and upwards of 60,000 names in the index, with the claim that these were the records of all worthy descendants of colonial and Revolutionary ancestors.
The Compendium is considered the most important collection of American lineage records of the 20th century. It contains the lineage records of the first families of America, with records extending in both male and female lines from the earliest-known immigrant ancestor to the then (1925-1942) living subject of the record. According to the first census there were about 650,000 families living in the United States in 1790, practically every one of which was of colonial or Revolutionary stock and thus entitled to be numbered among America's "First Families." Every lineage in the Compendium spans at least eight or nine generations. 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.