United States Compiled Genealogies

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How do I research United States Compiled Genealogies?
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Previous research is genealogical research that other people have already done about your family. It includes pedigree charts, family histories, genealogies, and other information. Previous research materials are written by individuals and groups. They often include many generations and go back hundreds of years. They may contain information found nowhere else. Previous research often has a wealth of information and many valuable clues. The accuracy of the research depends on how well the people who compiled the sources did their research.

What You Are Looking For[edit | edit source]

You are looking for information about your ancestors that other people have found, such as information about:

  • Birth.
  • Marriage.
  • Death.
  • Relationships.
  • Other biographical information.

Ask your relatives if you can copy the genealogical information they have.[edit | edit source]

Ask your relatives if they have:

  • Family histories.
  • Family stories.
  • Pedigree charts.
  • Family group records.
  • Letters.
  • Photographs.
  • Birth, marriage, death, or naturalization certificates.

With their permission, make copies of these items. Be very careful with anything your relatives loan you.

Write down any other information they give you.

FamilySearch Genealogies[edit | edit source]

Genealogies are pedigrees and family group records submitted to FamilySearch.

Online Databases[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch has a partnership with several subscription genealogy websites making it possible to view their collections without charge from a Family History Center computer. Each of these websites has a section devoted specifically to compiled genealogies, usually called "Family Trees". Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and Geneanet can be searched free of charge at a Family History Center near you.

Ancestry.com[edit | edit source]

1. Click to search Ancestry.com by index:

2. Fill out the fields in the "Search" box.
3. After you click "Search", choose "Family Trees" from the left sidebar menu: Select Family Trees.png

MyHeritage[edit | edit source]

Click to search MyHeritage Family Trees: Itty bitty arrow.png Family Trees

Geneanet[edit | edit source]

Click to search Geneanet by index:

Online, Published Family Histories or Genealogies[edit | edit source]

There are two basic types of books to hunt for that contain compiled genealogies:

  • Published Genealogies: There are many, many books published by family members who compiled the genealogical research they had done, organized it into indexed families, and had it printed.
  • County Histories: Late in the 19th century and the early 20th century, some companies devised a history/money-making scheme. They wrote a history of a county and invited the residents of the county to submit biographies/genealogies of their ancestors who were early settlers of that county. They then had an automatic market for the book--the people who had contributed to it. So it is important to search these county histories for the genealogical material included in them. The FamilySearch or Family History Library is gradually digitizing its microfilm and printed records, as permission is granted from the authors of the records. Hopefully, this process will be completeed in 2020. Check back from time to time to see if new records are available.

Family History Books[edit | edit source]

To access this collection, click on "Search" at the top of this page and select "Books" from the drop-down menu. Search books.png

Family History Books is a collection of more than 375,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. The collection includes family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees. The valuable resources included in Family History Books come from the following partner institutions: Allen County Public Library, Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, Brigham Young University Idaho David O. McKay Library, Church History Library, Family History Library, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Houston Public Library - Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Mid-Continent Public Library - Midwest Genealogy Center, Onondaga County Public Library, University of Florida, George A. Smathers Libraries.

A. Search by surname. If you receive a large number of hits, you can narrow the search by including a location in your keywords.

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Typical Results of a Surname Search
This is a small sample.
The actual list of hits is much longer.

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B. Search by locality. Search by county to find county histories with biographical/genealogical material.

Books search 2.png

Typical Results of a Locality Search

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Other Sources of Digitized Books[edit | edit source]

Several efforts are underway to digitize older books no longer under copyright, and other copyrighted books with permission. Just like above, these three collections listed here should be searched both for published genealogies and for county histories with biographical/genealogical material.

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Each of the search fields below is a clickable link to the search page for the collection.

HathiTrust[edit | edit source]

Click to go directly to HathiTrust:Itty bitty arrow.png


GoogleBooks[edit | edit source]

Click to go directly to GoogleBooks:Itty bitty arrow.png

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InternetArchive[edit | edit source]

Click to go directly to Internet Archive:Itty bitty arrow.png

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Indexes and Catalogs to Published Family Histories Which May Not Be Online[edit | edit source]

Researchers find the following reference works especially helpful in locating published family histories. These may or may not be digitized and online. After locating a history that might help you, enter the title in the WorldCat search tool to find a list of libraries near you holding a copy of that book.

  • The Greenlaw Index of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Two Volumes This indexes genealogical information in records acquired by the society that were printed between 1900 and 1940. It contains references to sources that include three or more generations.
  • Munsell's Index to American Genealogies This indexes 63,000 citations in family and local history books and periodicals published prior to 1908.
  • (1910) American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Hanson, J.C.M. and M.A. Gilkey.
  • (1919) American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress''. 2nd ed. Gilkey, M.A.
  • (1972) Genealogies in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography. Two Volumes.
  • (1972-76) Genealogies in the Library of Congress, supplement 1972-1976 : a bibliography
  • (1976-86) Genealogies in the Library of Congress, second supplement 1976-1986 : a bibliography
  • (1981) A complement to genealogies in the Library of Congress : a bibliography.
  • (1992) Genealogies Cataloged in the Library of Congress since 1986.
  • New York Public Library. Dictionary Catalog of the Local History and Genealogy Division. 18 Volumes.
  • American Genealogical-Biographical Index. Volumes 1-186+. Rider, Fremont, editor.
This is a continuing series.
To help interpret citations and locate the original sources use the colored pages in some volumes or see:
  • American Genealogical Biographical Key Title Index. Clark, Patricia L., and Dorothy Huntsman.
This book is to help you interpret citations and help you locate the original sources of information for names indexed in The American Genealogical-Biographical Index. It reproduces the titles found in the 'Key Title Index' and supplement found in volumes 54 and 70, and it corrects some bibliographic errors.
  • Old Surname Index File Microfilm copy of cards created by the Genealogical Society, Salt Lake City. These cards are an index to surnames found in the published family histories, periodicals, local histories, and other sources acquired by the Society before the indexing project was stopped in 1964.

Collections in Libraries and Genealogical/Historical Societies[edit | edit source]

Libraries usually have histories, biographies, early settler collections, or other types of previous research that might have information about your ancestors. There are many organizations and (libraries, local, county, or college) whose collections are not included in the indexes above.

  • Local public libraries.
  • Local colleges and universities.
  • Town or county historian. Ask the librarians in the area if there is a town or county historian. Such historians might have useful records for family history which are not found elsewhere.
  • County historical society and/or the county genealogical society. They might also have or know about useful records which are not found elsewhere.
  • State historical society and/or the state genealogical society. They also might have useful records not found elsewhere.

Public and College Libraries[edit | edit source]

Many family histories, genealogical magazines, and other genealogical materials are available at public and college libraries or may be sent to your library through interlibrary loan.

Manuscript Collections in Libraries[edit | edit source]

Numerous family papers and unpublished collections at other libraries and archives are listed in the:

Genealogical and Historical Societies[edit | edit source]

Genealogical Societies for Specific Cultural Groups[edit | edit source]

While most societies represent geographical areas, some are based on cultural groupings. They can also represent the ancestry or descent of a group of individuals from a specific place, time, or event. For example, you may find compiled genealogies of colonial immigrants, soldiers who served in the Revolutionary War, pioneers of a state, or members of a religious group. Many societies have compiled and published ancestor lists, lineage books, and genealogy tables. Here are a few examples:

Periodical or Magazine Articles[edit | edit source]

Check genealogical and historical magazines for genealogies and biographies. Often, magazines also have records from towns and counties including birth, marriage, and death records.

First, check magazine indexes, such as PERSI. Copy the following from the index:

  • Title of the magazine.
  • Number of the series, volume, or issue.
  • Date, if given.
  • Title of the article.
  • Author of the article.
  • Page number, if given.

Second, obtain the magazine article using the information you found in the index.

Tips[edit | edit source]

Tip 1. How can I use Interlibrary Loan?[edit | edit source]

  1. Go to your public or college library.
  2. Ask the library to order a book for you through interlibrary loan from another library.
  3. The library staff will direct you in their procedures. Sometimes this is free; sometimes the library charges a small fee.

Tip 2. Copy the information and reference the genealogies you find.[edit | edit source]

Make photocopies of the information you find in books or magazine articles.

On the photocopy, write:

  • The title and author of the book or magazine article.
  • The name of the library where you got the book or magazine.
  • The library's book or magazine number.
  • If the copy is a magazine article, also write the information you copied from the index. See Step 1.

Tip 3. Why do I need to be careful about the information in previous research?[edit | edit source]

In family, town, and county histories, people wrote what they knew about their families. However, sometimes what was written was inaccurate or false.

Verify the accuracy of previous research by comparing its information with original documents, including birth, marriage, and death records, and court and land records; original documents usually have the most accurate information.

Check the information you found to be sure it makes sense. For example:

  • Were all the mothers and fathers old enough to be parents when their first children were born?
  • Are the ages of grandparents reasonable when compared to grandchildren?
  • Were the children born far from where their parents lived and died?
  • Does anything disagree with what you know to be true?