Your Virtual Library Card
9/26/2009
Working the Web? Discover what Yahoo! misses—the family history riches of libraries around the world. Here's how to plug into online library catalogs.

Once you've combed the Web for your family history with Yahoo!, AltaVista, Excite or another search site, you might think you've found all there is to find. But you'd be missing some of the most useful family history resources on the Internet: the online catalogs of your old offline friend, the library.

Web researchers might mistakenly assume that Internet search engines index items listed in online library catalogs. In fact, you must search each online catalog directly to identify specific items held by the library that might hold answers to your genealogical mysteries.

Just like the old card catalogs in wooden file drawers, library catalogs on the Internet help you find books and other materials in a library. Now that many libraries have placed their catalogs online, you can easily find out what family history resources are available in libraries across the US and even in other countries.

Here are some of the most important online library catalogs for family history researchers. For more links to library catalogs of state libraries and historical societies, national libraries and libraries with important ethnic collections, as well as directories of library Web sites and online catalogs, see our library links.

For detailed writeups on these sites and tips on making the most of "Your Virtual Library Card," see the April 2000 issue of Family Tree Magazine.

Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Ind. (www.acpl.lib.in.us/: The largest genealogical library outside Utah.

Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham, Ala. (www.bham.lib.al.us/): Genealogy and local history collections are strongest for Alabama.

Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (www.lib.byu.edu/menu.html): Extensive collection of printed resources, 650,000 rolls of microfilm and 2 million microfiches.

California State Library-Sutro, San Francisco (www.library.ca.gov/): One of the largest genealogical collections west of Salt Lake City.

Dallas Public Library (dallaslibrary.org): The library's genealogy collection consists of 78,000 books, 40,000 rolls of microfilm and 74,700 microfiches.

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Washington, DC (dar.library.net): The DAR Library holds more than 150,000 books.

Denver Public Library (www.denver.lib.co.us/): The library's Genealogy Collection consists of about 60,000 volumes and 75,000 microforms.

Detroit Public Library (www.detroit.lib.mi.us/): The library's Burton Historical Collection contains genealogical materials covering the entire US.

Family History Library, Salt Lake City (www.familysearch.org): The largest genealogical library in the world.

Houston Public Library—Clayton Library (www.hpl.lib.tx.us/clayton/): Many family histories and county histories, as well as city directories and US federal census records.

Library of Congress, Washington, DC (http://lcweb.loc.gov/catalog/): More than 40,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories.

Los Angeles Public Library (catalog.lapl.org/): The Library's History and Genealogy Department has more than 40,000 volumes, including more than 10,000 genealogies.

Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Mo. (opac.mcpl.lib.mo.us/): The library's collection of 40,000 titles encompasses genealogies, local and state histories and indexes and abstracts of county records.

National Genealogical Society, Arlington, Va. (www.ngsgenealogy.org): The library's 30,000 family history and local history books are complemented by a large manuscript collection, members' ancestral charts, Bible records and family history files.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) (lcweb.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/): This catalog lists nearly 500,000 manuscripts held in research libraries, museums, state archives and historical societies located throughout North America.

New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston (www.NewEnglandAncestors.org): Extensive resources for New England genealogy and beyond.

New York Public Library (catnyp.nypl.org/): One of the largest genealogical collections in the country.

Newberry Library, Chicago (www.newberry.org: An impressive collection of more than 17,000 genealogies.

Seattle Public Library (www.spl.lib.wa.us/): The library's Genealogy Collection contains more than 23,000 books, as well as periodicals, pamphlets and microfilm.

State Historical Society of Wisconsin (www.shsw.wisc.edu/library/index.html): The newspaper collection is the second-largest in the US, dating from the 17th century to the present.

Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland (www.wrhs.org/searchme.htm): The library focuses on source materials for states east of the Mississippi River, but also has major sources for other states.

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