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Genealogy Library in the United States: 5 Popular Options

What is a genealogy library and why is it important?

Genealogy is the study of family history, tracing ancestral lines and documenting relationships. It involves researching and gathering information about one’s ancestors to create a comprehensive family tree. This process requires accessing various records and documents to piece together the puzzle of our lineage.

Genealogical research is important because it allows individuals to connect with their roots, understand their heritage, and gain a sense of identity. By uncovering their family’s past, individuals can learn about the struggles, triumphs, and traditions that have shaped their family history.

Genealogy Library

How a genealogy library can assist in family history research

A genealogy library is a repository of resources specifically dedicated to genealogical research. These libraries house a vast collection of documents, records, and publications that are invaluable for tracing one’s family history. By providing access to such resources, genealogy libraries play a pivotal role in assisting individuals in their quest to uncover their ancestral roots.

Genealogy libraries offer various resources for researchers. These include census records, vital records such as birth, marriage, and death certificates, city directories, historical maps, church records, and more. These resources help shed light on the lives of our ancestors, revealing their names, occupations, residences, and other significant details.

Utilizing a genealogy library for research has numerous benefits. Firstly, these libraries often have an extensive collection of resources that are not available elsewhere, making them a valuable source of information. Secondly, the library staff are knowledgeable and experienced in genealogical research, and they can provide guidance and assistance to researchers. Additionally, genealogy libraries often provide free access to databases and genealogical software, making the research process more efficient.

Exploring popular genealogy libraries in the United States

1. The FamilySearch Library

The FamilySearch Library, located in Salt Lake City, is one of the largest genealogy libraries in the world. It is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and offers a vast collection of genealogical records, including microfilms, books, and digital resources. The FamilySearch Library is open to the public and provides resources and assistance to individuals interested in researching their family history. Whether you’re looking to discover your ancestors, build your family tree, or explore your heritage, the library offers a wealth of information to help you in your genealogical journey.

The library’s collection includes over 2.4 million rolls of microfilm, making it one of the most extensive collections of its kind. These microfilms contain records from all around the world, including birth, marriage, death, and census records, as well as church and immigration records, military records, and much more.

In addition to microfilms, the library also houses a vast collection of genealogy books, periodicals, and other printed materials. These resources cover various topics related to genealogy and family history research, such as methodology, regional histories, specific surname studies, and more.

Moreover, the library provides access to a wide range of digital resources. FamilySearch, the online genealogy platform developed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, enables users to access billions of records, collaborate with other researchers, and utilize powerful search tools to uncover their family history. Patrons can access this database for free while at the library.

Furthermore, the FamilySearch Library offers a variety of classes, workshops, and presentations to help individuals enhance their genealogy research skills. These educational opportunities cover topics like beginner’s genealogy, DNA testing, document preservation, and specialized research techniques.

The expert staff at the library is available to assist visitors with their research, providing guidance on how to utilize the various resources to uncover family history information. They can help patrons navigate the microfilm collection, search the online databases effectively, and answer genealogy-related questions.

Overall, the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City is a valuable resource for anyone interested in genealogy. Its extensive collection, knowledgeable staff, and dedication to assisting researchers make it a premier destination for individuals looking to discover their family roots. 

Genealogy Library_The FamilySearch Library

2. The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has a significant genealogy collection, including books, manuscripts, photographs, and maps. Researchers can access various genealogical resources, such as census records, immigration records, and military records. In addition to these resources, the Library of Congress also houses vital records, such as birth, marriage, and death records, as well as newspapers, personal diaries, and oral histories that can be valuable for genealogical research. The collection includes materials from both the United States and other countries, making it a valuable resource for exploring family history on a global scale.

Census records are particularly useful for tracing family lineage and can provide information about individuals and their households, including names, ages, birthplaces, occupations, and more. The Library of Congress has a vast collection of federal and state census records, which can be accessed either online or through physical copies held in the library’s reading rooms.
Immigration records can be a treasure trove of information for those tracing ancestors who came to the United States. 

The Library of Congress houses a wide range of immigration records, such as passenger lists, ship manifests, and naturalization records. These resources can shed light on an ancestor’s arrival date, port of entry, and sometimes even their place of origin.

Military records are also valuable for genealogical research, as they can provide insights into an ancestor’s service history and military career, including pension files, service records, and regimental histories. These records can be particularly useful for uncovering details about an ancestor’s involvement in major historical events or conflicts.

To access these resources, researchers can visit the Library of Congress in person or explore the library’s online databases and digital collections. The library’s website provides guidance on how to best utilize the genealogy collection and offers tips on conducting effective research. Additionally, the library offers research assistance services, which can help guide individuals in their genealogical journey.

Genealogy Library_The Library of Congress

3. The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library

The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, is known for its extensive collection of genealogical resources. It offers access to databases, microfilm collections, local histories, and more. The center also hosts workshops and educational programs for researchers. The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library is considered one of the premier genealogical research facilities in the United States. It houses an extensive collection of resources that cater to both beginner and advanced researchers.

The center’s collection includes resources such as birth, marriage, and death records; censuses; military records; passenger lists; wills and probate records; and much more. These resources are available in various formats, including books, microfilm, microfiche, and digital databases.
Researchers can access several online databases, including Ancestry Library Edition, HeritageQuest Online, Fold3, and, among others. These databases offer a wide range of genealogical sources, such as census records, digitized newspapers, military records, and immigration records.

In addition to its database access, the center has an extensive microfilm collection. It includes a vast assortment of newspapers, probate records, land records, church records, city directories, and other valuable resources. The microfilm collection is often a crucial resource for researchers looking for information not easily accessible online.

Local histories and family histories are other significant resources available at the Genealogy Center. These materials provide insight into the history of specific regions and families, helping researchers understand the context in which their ancestors lived.

To assist researchers, the center employs a knowledgeable staff that is available to answer questions and offer guidance. They can help visitors navigate the library’s collection, provide research assistance, and recommend resources based on specific research needs.

The Genealogy Center also hosts regular workshops and educational programs. These events cover various genealogical topics, such as basic research techniques, advanced research strategies, DNA analysis, and using specific resources effectively. These programs provide valuable opportunities for researchers to enhance their skills and connect with other like-minded individuals.

Genealogy Librar_The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library

4. The New York Public Library Genealogy Division

The New York Public Library Genealogy Division is an excellent resource for researchers interested in New York and American history. Its collection includes genealogy and vital records, passenger lists, military records, and more. In addition to its extensive collection, the NYPL Genealogy Division provides access to online databases and resources, as well as expert staff who can assist with research inquiries. Whether you are looking to trace your family history, learn more about specific individuals or events, or gain a deeper understanding of New York City’s rich history, the Genealogy Division is a valuable resource.

One of the highlights of the collection is the vast array of genealogy and vital records. These include birth, marriage, and death records, as well as census records, church records, and probate records. These documents can help researchers piece together family trees and uncover details about ancestors’ lives.

Passenger lists are another valuable resource available at the Genealogy Division. These lists can provide information about immigrants who arrived in the United States through New York City, including their names, ages, occupations, and countries of origin. This information can be crucial for those tracing their ancestors’ journeys to America.

For those interested in military history, the NYPL Genealogy Division offers access to various military records. These include service records, pension records, and draft registration cards. These documents can shed light on an individual’s military service, providing insight into their experiences, unit assignments, and possible connections to other historical events.

Genealogy library_The New York Public Library Genealogy Division

5. The New England Historic Genealogical Society Library

The New England Historic Genealogical Society Library, located in Boston, Massachusetts, is a treasure trove for researchers delving into New England genealogy. Its collection offers access to vital records, historical maps, church records, and more. The library holds an extensive collection of birth, marriage, and death records from all six New England states, including many rare and hard-to-find records. These records can be invaluable for those researching their family tree or trying to trace their New England ancestors.

In addition to vital records, the library also has a wide range of other resources for genealogical research. This includes town and county histories, probate records, cemetery records, military records, and immigration records. The library also has an extensive collection of published genealogies and family histories, many of which are not available elsewhere.

One of the unique features of the New England Historic Genealogical Society Library is its collection of historical maps. These maps can be extremely useful for understanding the landscape and boundaries of New England towns and counties throughout history. They can also help researchers locate the exact location of ancestral homes and properties.
The library’s collection of church records is another valuable resource for genealogists. New England has a rich religious history, with many different denominations and churches throughout the region. The library holds records from a wide range of churches, including baptisms, marriages, and burials.

In addition to its physical collections, the library also provides access to online databases and resources. This includes digitized versions of many of its records and publications, allowing researchers to access them from anywhere in the world. The library also offers access to subscription websites and databases that can be incredibly helpful for genealogical research.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society Library is open to both members and non-members, although members do receive certain benefits, such as discounted rates for research services. The library has knowledgeable staff members who are available to assist researchers and provide guidance in navigating its collections.

Genealogy library_New England Historic Genealogical Society Library

How to make the most of your visit to a genealogy library?

Preparing for your visit

Prior to visiting a genealogy library, it is essential to prepare by making a research plan. Define your research goals, create a list of specific ancestors or documents you hope to find, and familiarize yourself with the library’s catalog and resources.

Bringing necessary documents and materials

When visiting a genealogy library, bring any relevant documents, photographs, or family records that can provide clues or help validate information. These materials can assist in your research and allow you to make connections with the resources available at the library.

Understanding library card requirements

Many genealogy libraries require visitors to have a library card to access certain resources. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the library’s policies, including any registration procedures or documentation needed to obtain a library card.

Using the main catalog and online databases

Genealogy libraries typically have main catalogs and online databases that can help you locate specific resources. Familiarize yourself with these tools, learn how to search effectively, and utilize the various search filters and options available.

Seeking assistance from library staff

If you encounter difficulties or have questions during your research, do not hesitate to seek assistance from the library staff. They are trained professionals who can provide guidance, answer queries, and suggest additional resources that may be beneficial for your research.

What to do if a genealogy library does not have the resources you need?

Exploring other local libraries and archives

If a genealogy library does not have the specific resources you need, consider exploring other local libraries or archives. Different libraries may hold different collections, and some may have resources that are more relevant to your research.

Utilizing online genealogy databases

Online genealogy databases such as or offer a vast collection of genealogical records. Utilize these databases to access records, conduct searches, and expand your research beyond the confines of a physical library.

Contacting state and regional archives

State and regional archives often hold records that may not be available at a local genealogy library. Reach out to these archives for assistance, as they may have resources that can provide insights into your family history.

Considering DNA testing for genealogical purposes

DNA testing has become an increasingly popular tool for genealogical research. By participating in DNA testing, you can discover genetic connections with other individuals and potentially uncover new branches of your family tree.

Joining genealogy forums and communities for help

Joining genealogy forums and communities can be helpful when searching for resources that are not readily available. Other researchers may have encountered similar challenges and can offer suggestions or guidance based on their experiences. Sharing knowledge and collaborating with fellow genealogists can lead to breakthroughs in your research.

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