Finding Local Historical Societies
10/26/2010
Historical societies are troves of local genealogical information. These online directories will help you find one in your ancestors' area.

If you need to do family research, but live hundreds or thousands of miles away from the family homestead, your best offline bet for finding information is a local historical society.

Most historical societies serve as repositories for some of the most eclectic information imaginable. Some have old newspapers, others railroad employment records, and still others own rare and out-of-print local history books. In addition, some societies sell books containing land or cemetery records.

It may surprise you to know that many societies will do a small amount of research for you for free, or for a minimal cost. Others will charge a small hourly fee plus the cost of any copies.

If you're searching for old photos of a specific locale, there's a good chance they are in the files of the area historical society. You can usually get a copy for the cost of duplication.

In addition to local (county or city) historical societies, there are also state historical societies. These are usually larger, and contain volumes of valuable records. You may find pioneer diaries, land records, family letters, photographs and maps.

You can locate most historical societies online; however you will need to contact most of them by phone or mail.

For a listing of historical societies, visit these sites:

Society Hill Directory: Listing of more than 4,500 societies.

Historical Societies of the United States: Links to state and local organizations.

Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Society Hall: This searchable directory helps you find societies that are members of FGS.

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