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Genealogy Research at Other Libraries and Archives

Triangle-Area Libraries

Duke University Libraries
Duke offers no special help to genealogists, so users must search the collection on their own. Strengths include nineteenth-century family histories and twentieth-century Durham African-American families.

North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
The North Carolina Collection houses works about North Carolina and those written by and about North Carolinians. The main focus of the collection is not genealogy, but there is a great deal of genealogical information in the collection. Many items are located in the Reading Room and are freely accessible, while some items must be requested at the desk. All items acquired since 1993 are in the online catalog, but a small percentage of older items are only listed in the card catalog in the Reading Room. Some of the more important genealogical resources in the collection are:

  • Federal Census Records – All federal censuses of North Carolina that have been released to the public, for the years 1790 to 1930, are on microfilm in the North Carolina Collection.  Indexes are shelved at call number CR310 in the Reading Room.
  • Local histories – the North Carolina Collection has a comprehensive collection of local histories relating to North Carolina. Genealogical information often can be found in these histories.
  • Newspapers – Newspapers can be a gold mine of genealogical information, and the North Carolina Collection has a large collection of old newspapers on microfilm. One strategy in using these newspapers is to find the death date of the person you are researching, and then look through the person’s hometown newspaper for an obituary. With luck, a great deal of biographical information can be found in this manner. Often, marriage notices can also be found, complete with descriptions of the wedding and what everyone was wearing. However, it is important to know that before the twentieth century, obituaries and marriage notices were usually only printed for a town’s prominent citizens, and some newspapers did not generally print obituaries until the 1920s or 1930s. The North Carolina Collection has an index to all newspapers ever published in the state, titled The North Carolina Newspaper Project Union List, located behind the main desk. They will gladly let you see it upon request.

Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill
The SHC, one of the premier manuscript collections in the South, is renowned for its materials relating to the history of the South. It is particularly strong in antebellum plantation records, Civil War materials, and Reconstruction South materials. In the 1930s, UNC Professor of History J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton traveled around the South collecting historical materials for the collection. He convinced many leading families to donate their papers to the collection, and these are full of valuable genealogical information. It is definitely worthwhile to see if your family is represented in the collection. Almost all of the department’s manuscripts collections are represented in the UNC Online Catalog. Detailed finding aids for most of the collections in the Southern Historical Collection can be found on their web page, Southern Historical Collection and General and Literary Manuscripts Inventories, also available through their home page.

North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh
The North Carolina State Archives is one of the finest institutions of its kind. Its primary functions include collecting, preserving, and making available for public use historical and evidential materials relating to North Carolina. Its holdings consist of official records of state, county, and local governmental units, and copies of federal and foreign government materials. In addition to these official records are private collections, maps, pamphlets, sound recordings, photographs, motion picture film, and a small reference library. This site also provides a link to the Manuscript and Archives Reference Systems (MARS), the Guide to Research Materials in the North Carolina State Archives: County Records, and listings of papers related to settling a person’s estate, filed first by county, then by name.

Genealogical Research at the State Library of North Carolina, Raleigh
Genealogical Services of the State Library of North Carolina holds extensive published materials to trace families in North Carolina as well as the states from which many migrated . Beginners and researchers needing books (family histories, published abstracts, county, state, and federal records), periodicals, census indexes, and microfilms to trace families in North Carolina and the states from which and to which they migrated should begin their research in this library.

Other Libraries

Allen County Public Library
This renowned collection includes more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items of microfilm and microfiche. Patrons of the department also have access to major online databases. As a cooperating partner with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the department can provide access to more than 2.4 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical and historical records for a small handling fee per roll of film requested. The Genealogy Center is also active in several initiatives to make significant public domain portions of its collection available online.

Daughters of the American Revolution
The DAR Library is one of the nation’s premier genealogical research centers. In 1998 HeritageQuest ranked it the third most important among national institutions based on the uniqueness of its sources. The library’s book collection numbers approximately 200,000 titles.

Family History Center Libraries
This site gives the locations of the 3400 Family History Centers worldwide (including Raleigh and Chapel Hill), which are owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These public facilities are an excellent resource for researching genealogy, providing access to most of the microfilms and microfiche of the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Library of Congress
As one of the leading genealogical collections in the country, the Library has more than 50,000 genealogies and 100,000 local histories. The collections are especially strong in North American, British Isles, and German sources. The Library is also one of the few in the US that houses an outstanding royalty, nobility, and heraldry collection.

National Archives and Records Administration
The National Archives contains records from every branch of the federal government, including the census, military service and pension records ca. 1776-1900, immigration records from 1820-1957, and naturalization records. Almost all Americans can find themselves, their ancestors, or their community in the archives. Knowing how a person interacted with the government is key to a successful search.

Public Libraries in the United States
A link to public library web sites across the country.