These are the most
frequently asked genealogy questions that librarians ask and that the public
there a List Serve for genealogy librarians?
there is an excellent and very active list serve available to librarians,
archivists, professional genealogists, and authors of genealogy books. It is
called Librarians Serving Genealogists. Go to http://www.cas.usf.edu/lis/genealib/
to subscribe. This service has information on Collection Development and
Preservation; Information Literacy; Professional Development and Education; and
Reference and Referral Services.
Do you have census records for all the states?
are online images of the U.S. Federal, population census for all the states on Ancestry.com
from 1790 to 1930 (the 1890 census burned and only a few counties survived).
Some images are available on HeritageQuestOnline
(see “Ten Suggested Websites” for more details and the web addresses.) These
are commercial databases for which your library has to subscribe. Go to the
archived posting for the list serve, Librarians Serving Genealogists, for good
reviews on these two commercial databases. At this time, you need a subscription
to both databases to have full indexing by name, as they index different years.
Microfilms for the Federal Census are available for loan from the National
Archives. There are free census images for some counties on www.USGenWeb.com.
How can I find a book about my family?
and RLIN have huge bibliographic databases that genealogists love. These
databases provide them with information on most genealogy material in libraries
across the country and some foreign libraries. This material can possibly be
borrowed for your patrons through Interlibrary Loan. Access to manuscripts,
newspapers, and periodicals is also available through these databases.
4. My grandfather said that I have
Cherokee blood. How can I find out?
keyword search on FirstSearch using the terms “Cherokee genealogy” will give
you a very long and useful list of books on the subject. This list includes
several good how-to books for doing Native American genealogy.
A good place to start your research is with the U.S. Federal population
census, then check the Indian tribal rolls, and special Indian censuses. The
government took a special census on reservations from 1885 to 1940. These
records are available on microfilm from the National Archives. A few large
academic and public libraries have the films and may loan them. Look also on the
Dawes Rolls, which is a listing of Cherokee, Chactaw, Creek, Chickasaw, and
Seminole Nations of Oklahoma, enrolled during 1899-1906. This roll shows degree
of Indian blood and is used to prove eligibility of entitlements, i.e., grants
for education. Also check the Miller, Drennen, Old Settler, and the Chapman
rolls, as well as others. These Indian rolls are listings of Cherokee people
going back to the mid to early 1800s. This will give your patron a good start. Cyndi’s List also has some good links to Cherokee genealogical research.
5. How do I use Fremont Rider’s American
is a 200+ volume set which is now available on Ancestry.com (This is a subscription database. Subscribe yourself or ask Janna and Daniela to look something up for you.). This index
gives information on thousands of individuals that may not be indexed anywhere
else. The database gives the full bibliographic information about the
publication cited for the person you have looked up; the researcher can then
request the material through Interlibrary Loan. One of the most useful resources
in the AGBI is the Boston
Transcript Genealogy Newspaper Columns: Clippings of June 6, 1896 - April 30,
1941.The readers of this newspaper column over a forty year period requested
genealogy information and other readers responded. It is an invaluable resource
for people doing New England research. It contains information found no place else. The AGBI indexes hundreds of
surname books and other genealogical records.
How does one find immigration records?
multi-volume set edited by P. William Filby called Passenger
and Immigration List Index has over 4.5 million immigrants who came to the
New World between 1538 and 1940. This is available in paper, on CD-ROM, or
online for subscription. It must be remembered that this is an index of
published materials. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has
the original ships’ manifests. Some of these lists are indexed and all have
been microfilmed. You can also go to the Ellis Island records database for
immigrants from 1892 to 1924. (See “top ten” online databases.)
are several other published series Germans to America, Italians
to America, Migration form the Russian
Empire, and publications on immigrants from the Irish potato famine,
Czechoslovakian, Dutch, and Jewish immigration, to name a few.
can genealogists best use FirstSearch?
World Cat is well loved by genealogists since it gives them access to most
genealogy books in the United States and some foreign countries. When searching
for a family surname, enter the surname and the word “family” in the keyword
search box, i.e. “Morrow family.” If you get too many hits, you can refine
the search by adding the word “genealogy”. Searches for common surnames do
not work well because it brings up too many hits but you can add a location,
i.e., “Morrow family” and “Missouri.” The results on this search show
published material about families, as well as, unpublished manuscript materials.
The manuscript material will not be available on Interlibrary Loan unless it has
been microfilmed. However, just knowing the location of unique materials is very
useful. A query can then be submitted to the library holding this material.
8. What do I do when I come to a
“dead-end” in my research?
to state and local libraries in places where your ancestors lived. State
archives often hold original, unpublished documents for school, court, voting,
land, marriage, birth, death, and probate.
Local libraries and historical societies often have vertical file
materials, local publications, local card indexes, and other unpublished or
locally published materials. Addresses for libraries can be found in the American
that the researcher see what is available in the National Archives on microfilm.
There is a full index online at http://www.nara.gov. Some of the
lesser-known federal records can give a fresh start to anyone’s research.
Some of these files are: passport applications, 1791-1925; homestead
files, 1862-1908; civil war income tax records, 1862-1872; federal court
records, 1789-1911; World War I draft registration cards, 1917-19, which include
28 million records for males age 18-35. The National Archives does not loan
microfilms except for census and some military records. Material microfilmed by
the National Archives can be borrowed from the some of the large public
libraries or historical societies or from the Family History Library in Salt
Lake City, UT and its local Family History Centers.
9. How can I do genealogy if I am
adopted? Or, how do I locate adopted siblings?
are several books on how to locate missing people or how to do the genealogy of
adopted people. There are several organizations that help adoptees. Go to our
section on Adoption for more information and details on organizations
that can help. See the “Ten Suggested Genealogy Reference Books” for one
How do I find an obituary for my grandfather? He
died in Arizona (or any other place) in 1913, I don’t know exactly when or
you will need an exact date of death. See our section on Death Records
for advice on how to find a death certificate or substitute document.
Remember that obituaries may not be published for days, even weeks after the
death. Then check out our section on Newspaper Research. Some
Archives and Libraries have indexes of obituaries for people who died in their