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Libraries for Genealogical Research

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Other Magnificent Collections

The Allen County [Indiana] Public Library at Ft. Wayne houses one of the largest collections of genealogy material in the United States. For years they have systematically added to their holdings, which are considered same of the finest in the country. Their strong collection of periodicals resulted in the development of the PERSI index previously described. Additionally, many thousands of genealogy books are available on their shelves.

Other major collections are the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library in Boston, Massachusetts (www.newenglandancestors.org), and the New York Public Library in New York City (www.nypl.org), the Historical Society of Wisconsin Library in Madison, Wisconsin (www.wisconsinhistory.org), the St. Louis County Public Library in St. Louis, Missouri (www.slcl.lib.mo.us), and others. Their already extensive collections continue to grow as interest in genealogy escalates.

Religious and Ethnic Libraries

Some churches and ethnic groups maintain libraries and archives. Their hours may be limited, so inquire ahead of time if you plan to visit. Check with your local reference librarian for guides that will lead to the location of many church archives. Also go to www.cyndislist.com and scroll to “Religions & Churches.” Alternately, insert the name of the denomination in your browser, and add the word “archives” for listings. Enormous amounts of information exist on the websites—general background on the religion, descriptions of their library holdings, and perhaps even actual images of records. A few of the websites follow:

  • Baptist: The Northern Baptist Historical Library and Archives at www.sbhla.org/archives.htm. Included is a list of microfilmed church records available for purchase. And they have a photo gallery and brief biographies.
  • Catholic: cyndislist.com has links to websites of dioceses and archdioceses not only in the United States, but also in the world. One useful website is http://home.att.net/~Local_Catholic. This includes a guide to type and location of records, biographies, history, and others.
  • Huguenot: The National Huguenot Society's website can be accessed at www.huguenot.netnation.com/general. The Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland is at www.huguenotsociety.org.uk/resources. These sites include such informative material such as “Who Were the Huguenots,” “Important Dates in Huguenot History,” addresses of collections, and other aids.
  • Jewish: The American Jewish Archives at www.americanjewisharchives.org/intro.html, and “Reading Hebrew Tombstones” at www.jewishgen.org/infofiles/tombstones.html are both helpful.
  • Lutheran: The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has a website at www.elca.org/library/library.html. The Lutheran Archives Center at Philadelphia can be accessed at www.ltsp.edu/krauth/archives.html. These include links to other sites.
  • Mennonite: The Mennonite Archives is available at www.mcusa-archives.org. Included is an amazing collection of “Mennobits,” obituaries of thousands with a search feature. Try also www.ristenbatt.com/genealogy/mennonit.htm for background and links, and even tombstone inscriptions in a number of cemeteries.
  • Methodist: The Methodist Archives & Research Center (England) at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester is at http://rylibweb.man.ac.uk/data1/dg/text/method.html. The United Methodist Archives at www.gcah.org is another of the sundry Methodist research sites available online.
  • Presbyterian: Presbyterian Historical Society at www.history.pcusa.org is a good place to start. Once there, click on “Presbyterians in America” for a number of good links including a brief history of the Presbyterian Church in this country, a Presbyterian timeline, and others.
  • Quaker: The Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania at www.swarthmore. edu/library/friends includes explanations of Monthly Meetings, description of the kinds of records Quakers kept, which monthly meeting to search, and more. Many other Quaker websites are available—enter “Quaker” in your browser and off you go!
Tree Tips

Most lineage societies are by membership only. If you have an interest in joining, and you qualify, an existing member can sponsor your membership. Lineage societies are requiring extensive proof of relationship accompanied by source citations, so prepare carefully.

Lineage Society Libraries

The best-known and most extensive library in this category is the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Library in Washington, D.C. Members of the NSDAR can use the library at no charge; others pay a small daily fee. It has considerable material, including Bible records submitted in support of applications. Go to their website at www.dar.org. An awesome database at their site at http://members.dar.org/dar/darnet.cfm indexes thousands of records in their Genealogical Records Collection (GRC). Use the search engine provided after you've read the “Index Overview” at the site. Check also Eric Grundset's American Genealogical Research at the DAR—it will provide many tips for successfully using this library.

Besides the well-known DAR Library, there are also others.

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a genealogy department, but don't stop there. Look for their rare books section, the newspaper collection and finding aids, photographs, and the map section; all will be important in your search. Consult James C. Neagles' The Library of Congress: A Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research for some understanding of the vast facilities.

And don't overlook the Library of Congress's extensive website at www.loc.gov. There is much of interest here, but especially, click on “American Memory” for a seemingly endless well of genealogical treasures. Photographs, images, sounds, background information, taped interviews (such as those with many former slaves), and much more.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Genealogy © 2005 by Christine Rose and Kay Germain Ingalls. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit the Idiot's Guide web site or call 1-800-253-6476.


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