In the US, you might find a county history book from the area where your ancestors settled. Ancestral Findings have a podcast about the topic. And on their website, they say:
County history books are usually excellent genealogical resources. They were very popular in the 1880’s and 1890’s, particularly with northern counties, though a few counties in the south printed them, as well. They actually did have a lot of useful information on county history in them, often from the times before American settlement, and were useful as school books for students who were studying local history.
Go to Library of Congress, choose Books/Printed Material from the drop-down menu, and search for “county history”, or be more specific on what are you are searching for. Many of them are marked “Also available in digital form.” In that case, you might be redirected to the website Archive.org, which has several of them scanned. You could also try searching Archive.org for the words “county book, Minnesota” without quotes, I got several hits. You could read the books online, and they are searchable. They could also be downloaded in several formats, like ePub, Kindle, and PDF.
Ancestry.com (paid service) do also has several of these books scanned. Go to Ancestry Card Catalog, and type “county history” under Title.
We got a feedback from Mike Oiseth in US:
Regarding county histories: A good starting point is WorldCat. Search with terms “county” + “history” + [county name] + [state name]. In catalog entries, click on “editions and versions” (which will link to some digitized editions]. This catalog is extensive, but does not include books in FamilySearch Books, another source of fulltext county books.
Other sources of many digitized county books (besides Archive.org) are HathiTrust and Google Books. This is a very useful directory of links: http://www.learnwebskills.com/family/countyhistories1.htm
That listing does not cover two states important to Norwegian settlement in the U.S., North Dakota and South Dakota. Be sure not to overlook the web site Digital Horizons, which has a great collection of digitized items pertaining to North Dakota. I am unaware of any inclusive list of South Dakota’s county and state history books, but many do exist. I have compiled a list of such books and their online sources.
Good luck with Study Genealogy! A good genealogical guide book to Norwegian and Norwegian-American genealogy research is very much needed. I have been at work in recent years gathering relevant sources and information of interest to researchers.
Thank’s a lot to Mike Oiseth for the updates!