Top Tech Tools for Genealogists: WorldCat for Library Research

By Diane Haddad

The things genealogists can do with smartphone apps and online tools these days are amazing—and overwhelming. In our Aug. 21 webinar 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without, Lisa Louise Cooke recommends tools and apps to take care of the essential functions a genealogist needs: Online backups, file sharing, consuming online content (aka reading blogs, listening to podcasts, watching videos, etc.), remote access on your mobile devices, library searching, note taking, etc.

She’ll also show you how to get started with the recommended tools. (I especially love that. For me, the getting-started hump will sometimes keep me from trying a new app or tool.)

In this post, I’ll highlight one of the tools on Lisa’s list: WorldCat for library searching.

The library in the town where your ancestors lived is a great place to start your research, but you’ll also want to explore the collections of historical societies, state libraries and archives, large genealogical libraries, university libraries and more. WorldCat makes it easier to search all these types of libraries by giving you access to search the catalogs of 72,000 repositories in 170 countries and territories. No need to search catalogs on a hundred different library websites.

I tried it just now, searching for German immigrants Cincinnati, and found a few books to add to my to-do list, including this one:

My Cincinnati German ancestors settled here mostly in the early to mid 19th century. So far, all but one line originate near the Osnabruck area in Lower Saxony or Westphalia. From its description (which you find when you scroll down), this book could provide insight into what motivated my family to emigrate, what the journey was like, and where in the United States other emigrants from that area settled.

WorldCat also tells you which libraries hold each item, in order of proximity to your location.

The 10 Genealogy Tech Tools You Can’t Live Without webinar, presented by Lisa Louise Cooke, is Thursday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m. ET (that’s 6 p.m. CT, 5 p.m. MT and 4 p.m. PT). As with all our webinars, participants get access to watch the video again whenever they want, plus a PDF of the presentation slides. Register on Family Tree Shop.