Genealogist’s Best Tool: the LIBRARY

The local public library or the local genealogy library can offer family researchers clues and solutions to many unanswered questions. You will want to contact your own local library, but also a library closest to the family you are researching.

Librarians are free experts.  Use your librarians to help you break through your brick walls. I recommend you don’t suffer through loads of looking, but instead ask the librarian first.

Family genealogies.  Most local libraries will have a copy of local family genealogies. These are most helpful in confirming your information, though unless published are not typically used as a primary source.

Newspapers.  Local public libraries and local genealogy libraries are working hard to make newspapers available online. Be sure to ask what the library offers. Many local libraries offer microfilm of newspapers of the past or even have the original copies you can look through. Ask if they have an index, though many do not.

Obituaries. Obituaries are found in newspapers, but many libraries have had volunteers put obituaries in separate books which eliminates the need to search through pages of a newspaper.

Death Records, Cemetery, and Mortuary Records. Even if you have death information on your ancestor, check out these library records to see if you can find additional information.

Maps, Plat maps. Make use of the maps available in many local libraries. These will help you find location of your family or their lands.

City Directories. City directories often tell names of spouse, number of children, and occupation- a great resource for those years outside of the census.

Yearbooks and Photographs. Many libraries have yearbooks from area schools. They may also have photographs of people, places, homes, or events that can add information about your ancestor. Be sure to inquire about those.

Local history books. Genealogists often miss information when they leave out looking through books, in particular books about the local history.

Check out your library online before visiting. Many have their card catalogs online for you to peruse before you go. When I go to the library, I bring pencil and paper, camera, iPad, flash drive, money for copies. I almost never make copies though. Libraries usually have computers that you can use and are almost always wireless.

It’s fun to research in the library!

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