Public libraries subscribe to online research databases in behalf of their patrons. Some of these databases permit you to access them from a home computer with a current library card and password while others can only be used onsite.



How to Use Your Local Library for Genealogy online


Online and Onsite Genealogy Databases

Some popular library databases for genealogy and family history include:

  • Accessible Archives African American Newspapers – Historic newspapers published by African Americans
  • African American Heritage – primary source material specifically for African American family history and genealogy
  • African American Historical Newspapers – Historic newspapers published by or primarily concerned with communities of African Americans
  • American Ancestors – US Census data & other genealogy record sets
  • America’s GeneaologyBank – a library version of this historic newspaper site
  • Ancestry – US Census data & other genealogy record sets
  • Biography Resource Center – includes biographies on both current and historical figures from all fields
  • Digitial Sanborn Maps/ProQuest – digitized insurance maps for 12,000 US cities & towns between 1867-1970
  • Archives Unbound – various historical exhibits for cultural background information
  • FindMyPast – US Census data & UK genealogy record sets
  • Fold3 – US military records from the Revolutionary War forward
  • HeritageQuest/ProQuest – US Census data & other genealogy record sets
  • JSTOR – full-text journals
  • MyHeritage – US Census data & other genealogy record sets
  • Newspaper Archive – Historic Newspapers from the 17th century forward
  • PERSI – PERiodical Source Index – cataloged articles, photographs and other material covering the historic US, Canada, Australia, & UK
  • Yearbooks Online – the name varies by location but many libraries have local historic yearbooks digitized in a searchable database

Visit your library website and see which research databases you can access offsite with your library card and which databases can only be used onsite. 
How to Use Your Public Library for Genealogy

OnSite Visits

Genealogy Research Databases – Most libraries provide free computer terminals for patrons to use onsite. Libraries subscribe to research databases and patrons can visit their local library and access these databases. Check with your local library to learn which databases they offer and what onsite computer & printing resources they offer.

Dewey Decimal Numbers for Genealogy – You can use these Dewey Decimal Numbers to find genealogy collections in most public libraries.

900 – History & Geography (the broad catch-all)

910 – Geography & Travel

920 – Biography & Genealogy

921-928 – Biographies by subject’s last name

929 – Genealogy, names, insignia

  • 929.1 – Genealogy
  • 929.2 – Family Histories
  • 929.3 – Genealogical Sources
  • 929.4 – Personal Names
  • 929.42 – Surnames (last names)
  • 929.44 – Forenames (first names)
  • 929.5 – Cemetery Records (no longer included in 929.3)
  • 929.6 – Heraldry
  • 929.7 – Royal houses, etc
  • 929.8 – Awards, orders, autographs
  • 929.9 – Forms of insignia and identification

930 – History of the ancient world

940 – History of Europe

950 – History of Asia

960 – History of Africa

970 – History of North America

  • 971 – Canada
  • 972 – Mexico, Central America, West Indies, Bermuda
  • 973 – US History
  • 974 – Northeastern States
  • 975 – Southeastern States
  • 976 – South Central States
  • 977 – North Central States
  • 978 – Western States
  • 979 – Great Basin & Pacific States

980 – History of South America

990 – History of Other Areas



If you’re visiting your local library, be sure to ask if they have a microfilm collection with microfilm readers. Local libraries are often the best place to find local records & to research the history of an area.



Digitizing books, photographs, and other media is a priority at many libraries. Check with your local library to learn what scanners & digitizing equipment they offer to the public, often on a free, first-come, first-served basis.


Best in your research!


Here’s a pinnable image to save for future reference.

How to Use Your Library for Online Genealogy Research with a library card and password


OR use this pinnable for onsite resource ideas!

How to Use Your Library for Genealogy Research online databases, microfilm, computers, scanners





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