There are lots of reasons to love a library.
Here’s a few of my favorite libraries for genealogical research:
American Antiquarian Society in Worcester MA. This is the largest collection of U.S. printed material to 1876 in the United States. It has extensive newspaper and manuscripts holdings and a strong genealogical collection. A detailed guide to the collection by subject is available online. Their catalog is online, but see the caveat.
Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT. It’s true that a lot of their holdings are available online through familysearch.org, or in their many regional Family Search Centers, but there’s nothing like being in the main library itself. Here’s a glimpse at their Collection Description:
- The collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records; 727,000 microfiche; 356,000 books, serials, and other formats; 4,500 periodicals; 3,725 electronic databases.
- Historical Records contains over a billion names of deceased individuals from census, vital records, and other records from over 100 countries on each of the seven continents. It includes indexes and images of many original records.
- Digitized Books contain searchable copies of over 40,000 family history and genealogy printed works.
- Library of Congress, Washington DC. The Local History and Genealogy Reading Room is part of the world’s largest library including 50,000 genealogies, 100,000 local histories, and collections of manuscripts, microfilms, maps, newspapers, photographs, and published material, strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources.
- National Archives, Washington DC, census, pre-WWI military service & pensions, passenger lists, naturalizations, passports, federal bounty land, homesteads, bankruptcy, ethnic sources, prisons, and federal employees.
It was the day before our moving van was to arrive and pack us up for the move from Virginia to California. I suddenly had an overwhelming “need” to go one more time to the National Archives. I didn’t even know what I would look for when I got there, but I knew there was something I needed to find. I drove the hour into the City and went to the census records on microfilm. I pulled up the census I had looked at previously, for Vermont and the family of my great-great grandfather, Charles Grant and his wife, Berilla Niles, and their 3 sons…and a daughter….Wait! They didn’t have any daughters! Who is this “Clarrie” living with them and listed as their daughter? That started a research journey that lasted many months, until I could establish that Clarrie was Clara Emily Woodward, the daughter of Charles’ sister, Emily, who “went West” with her husband, Nathaniel Woodward. They left young Clarrie with her uncle until they could be established and return or send for her, but they were never heard from again. I just knew Clarrie wanted to be “found” so she could be linked to her birth parents, and that’s why I was prompted to visit the National Archives one more time!
Here’s a free 25-min. video course on using libraries in your research, from FamilySearch.org https://familysearch.org/learningcenter/lesson/ancestors-season-1-libraries-and-archives/161