EXCERPT FROM FAMILY TREE MAGAZINE
By Rick Crume
In the day of online repositories, it’s tempting to skip the library research, but when we do, we’re selling our ancestors – and our research – short. Libraries are vital resources for family history researchers, and contain a lot of valuable information not available online, or in private collections.
Local libraries often provide everything from online access (including subscriptions to Ancestry.com and other online databases) to areas chock full of local history resources. Many public libraries now have dedicated genealogy or local history collections, making them an essential destination for every roots researcher. There you’ll find not only books, but also rare manuscripts, genealogical journals and census records all full of valuable information you won’t find online. And, when going to the library, researchers can take advantage of access to librarians with years of training in research methods and various subjects.
But which other public libraries should you try hardest to work into your travel plans? To find out, we evaluated libraries across the country and weighed factors such as collection size, census records, special collections, accessibility, geographic coverage, and services.
Here are the top libraries for genealogy research in the US:
- Allen County Public Library
- Family History Library (FHL)
- Mid-Continent Public Library
- Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
- Birmingham Public Library
- Denver Public Library
- New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) Library
- Detroit Public Library
- Library of Congress
- Dallas Public Library
- Los Angeles Public Library
- National DAR Library
- The New York Public Library (NYPL)
- Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library
Allen County Public Library
The Allen County Public Library’s genealogy collection has garnered a national reputation and attracts more than 100,000 researchers from across the country each year. This Fort Wayne, Ind., library’s claim to fame is the Periodical Source Index, which catalogs thousands of genealogical and historical periodicals published since 1800. Staff have collected more than 10,000 titles. You can access PERSI at the library or by searching Findmypast.com.