All library locations and services will be closed Monday, 5/27, for Memorial Day.
Automated phone renewals are now available by calling 919-680-2524 and logging in with your library card number and PIN.


Online Databases

  • Ancestry Library Edition  (subscription database accessible from all Durham County Library locations)
    Offers over a billion names in over several thousand unique databases, including the Social Security Death Index. Available both at the Main Library and all Durham County regional libraries.
  • HeritageQuest (subscription database accessible from all Durham County Library branches or from anywhere with an internet connection via your library card & NC LIVE)
    HeritageQuest includes data sets such as the U.S. Federal Census, family history and local history books, city directories, military records, wills and probate records, Freedman’s Bank, among others.

Subject Guides

Durham Genealogy Basics

  • Coming soon! Topics to cover: county formation, record locations.

Genealogy Books in the North Carolina Collection

Books for Getting Started

Genealogy for the First Time: Research Your Family History.
Best, Laura. 2003.
929.1 BEST

Unpuzzling Your Past: The Best-selling Basic Guide to Genealogy.
Croom, Emily Anne. 2001.
929.107 CROOM

North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History.
Leary, Helen F.M., editor. 1996.
929.107 NORT

The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy
Greenwood, Val D.

County Heritage Books

More information coming soon! Here is a link.

Subject Headings in the Library’s Catalog

When searching for genealogical materials in the library catalog, use the “subject keyword” selection and these subject headings to find many of the genealogical materials the library owns.

  • Genealogy.
  • North Carolina—Genealogy.
  • North Carolina–Census.
  • North Carolina. Division of Archives and History.
  • North Carolina–Gazetteers.
  • United States–Genealogy.
  • United States–Census.
  • Obituaries.
  • African-Americans–Genealogy.
  • African-Americans–North Carolina–Genealogy.
  • Smith family. (Use the family name plus the word “family” if you are looking for a specific family)

Periodicals in the North Carolina Collection

  • Trading Path
    From the Durham-Orange Genealogical Society. A name index covering 1990 to 1998 is available in the North Carolina Collection. A list of article titles by issue can be found here.
  • NCGS Journal
    From the North Carolina Genealogical Society. Features educational articles about North Carolina genealogy and transcribed original records. Search the index here.
  • North Carolina Historical Review
    From the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. A quarterly journal with articles that explore the history of North Carolina. A list of articles from 1924-2023 and digitized back issues from 1924-1967 can be found here

Local Indexes and Guides

Resources from the State Library of North Carolina



Other North Carolina Resources


Genealogical Organizations

  • Durham-Orange Genealogical Society (D-OGS)
    D-OGS is a nonprofit membership organization established in 1989 and dedicated to the research and preservation of family history of Durham and Orange counties, North Carolina. D-OGS publishes a monthly newsletter and a quarterly journal, The Trading Path.
  • North Carolina Genealogical Society
    NCGS is the primary statewide genealogical society in North Carolina. The society preserves and promotes genealogical studies in the state, publishes the quarterly  North Carolina Genealogical Society Journal , and provides members and interested researchers with a variety of genealogical resources. Click on “local societies” in the left-hand column of the site’s home page for a list of societies by county.
  • National Genealogical Society
    NGS is the primary national organization for genealogists in America. Their main goals are to lead and educate the genealogical community in America. Their 2009 annual conference will be held May 13-16 in Raleigh, NC.
  • Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc.
    The Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, Inc. (AAHGS) strives to preserve African-ancestored family history, genealogy, and cultural diversity by teaching research techniques and disseminating information throughout the community.

Genealogy Resources Around the Web

  • AfriGeneas
    AfriGeneas provides resources, leadership, promotion, and advocacy for the mutual development and use of a system of genealogy resources for researching African related ancestry. This site has a good tutorial on the basics of African-American genealogy.
  • Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
    This is the most comprehensive directory of genealogy sites on the web. Cyndi’s List will lead you to thousands and thousands of genealogy websites.
  • Family Search
    Gives you access to extensive genealogical resources gathered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Family Search is free to use, but it does require that you create an account.
  • Find A Grave
    As the name suggests, you can find names, birth dates, death dates, biographies, and the location of graves, and in some cases photographs.
    Focuses on genealogy software and Internet products including Family Tree Maker, the top-selling genealogy software program.
  • Periodical Source Index (PERSI)
    A subject index for genealogy and local history periodicals maintained by the staff at the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Libray.
  • RootsWeb
    The internet’s oldest and largest free genealogical community.
  • US GenWeb Project
    The USGenWeb Project consists of a group of volunteers working together to provide Internet websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States.
  • WorldCat
    The world’s largest network of library content and services. WorldCat is an online catalog containing millions of records from hundreds of libraries and is the best source for finding published genealogies. You can also see whether the book is available for interlibrary loan.