Genealogy Research Guide
- Subscription-based Electronic Resources
- Archives, Libraries, Research Institutions
- Bibliographies, Reference Guides, and How-To Guides
- DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
- Ethnic Genealogy
- Genealogy Societies and Professional Organizations
- Software and Technology
Welcome to the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives' Genealogy Research Guide. This guide identifies a select list of resources of digital collections, subscriptions, print and online resources relating to American biography, family history, genealogy, and local history. Please feel free to contact us at AskaGenealogist@si.edu with suggestions for additional resources or with questions.
This list highlights some of the subscription-based electronic resources available to researchers from the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives. Databases that require SI network for access are indicated by "SI staff." For information about remote access see Off-Site Access to Electronic Resources.
- African American Newspapers Series 1 (1827-1998) (SI staff): A collection of African Americans newspapers published during the 19th and 20th centuries, chronologically grouped by the eras in the history of the Caribbean, U.S. Presidential eras, and eras in American history.
- American Civil War: Letters and Diaries (SI staff): A digital collection of more than 100,000 pages of diaries, letters and memoirs written by 2,009 authors.
- American National Biography Online (SI staff): A database of more than 19,000 names of Americans and foreign nationals; accompanied by paintings, sketches, etchings, drawings, and photographs (when available) from the pre-colonial era to present day.
- American Periodicals (SI staff): A database of periodicals published between 1740 and 1940, many of which included more than 300,000 family histories, genealogies, or subjects related to genealogy and local history.
- Ancestry Library Edition (SI staff): Largest subscription and fee-based family history website with billions of records, photos, family trees, historical newspapers, and publications. Also provides genealogy research and publishing services.
- Archives Unbound (Gale) (SI staff): Topically focused digital collections of primary resources and historical documents dating from the Middle Ages to the twentieth century. Includes thousands of published and private family histories, genealogies, and biographies.
- Artemis Primary Sources (Gale) (SI staff): A single interface that supports cross-searches of all available Gale digital archives of historical records, manuscripts, journals, and newspapers. Includes thousands of genealogies and family histories.
- Biography and Genealogy Master Index (Gale)(SI staff): An international database of more than 20 million biographical citations on more than 6 million persons, living and deceased, spanning 2,000 years of recorded history.
- Fold3 Complete Collection (SI staff): Digital collections of military records, photos, stories, and personal documents. International in scope, but largely focused on documenting conflicts from the American Revolution to the Iraq War.
- JSTOR (SI staff): A database of more than 12 million international academic journal articles, books, and primary sources, including studies on genealogy, family history, local history, and biography.
- Nineteenth Century U.S. Newspapers (Gale) (SI staff): A database of 1.8 million pages of nineteenth century American newspaper; includes local history and genealogical content.
- North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories (ProQuest) (SI staff): A collection of letters, diaries, oral histories, interviews, and narratives of immigrants who came to North America between 1800 and 1950.
- North American Women’s Letters and Diaries (ProQuest) (SI staff): An indexed collection of 150,000 pages of diaries and letters documenting the experiences of 1,325 North American women from the 18th century to the 20th.
- ProQuest (all collections) (SI staff): Portal to 21 databases containing scholarly journals, books, videos & audio files, dissertations & theses, newspapers, and manuscripts, including genealogies, biographies, and local histories.
Archives, Libraries, Research Institutions
- Allen County (Indiana) Public Library Genealogy Center: Third largest genealogy library in the U.S. with programs supporting genealogical research, genealogy community networking, and community oral history preservation.
- Center for Autobiographic Studies: Not-for-profit education organization dedicated to promoting the knowledge, appreciation, creation, and preservation of autobiographic works.
- Family History Library: Largest genealogy library system in the world. Helps researchers discover their family’s history through its website, mobile apps, and in-person services and programs at more than 5,000 local and affiliate family history centers.
- FamilySearch List of United States Archives and Libraries with Genealogy and Special Collections: Wiki that identifies major archives, libraries, societies, museums, repositories, and institutions with genealogy collections and research services.
- Library of Congress, American Folklife Center; Family History and Folklife Online Resources: Initiative that encourages and assists American families in studying their family history and in researching their family’s folk traditions. Provides resources, guidelines, and training on conducting oral interviews, and preserving traditions. Sponsors ongoing initiatives such as The National Visionary Leadership Project, StoryCorps, and Veterans History Project.
- Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers: A website hosted by the Library of Congress that provides information on historic newspapers published from 1690 to the present. Provides access to digitized newspaper pages dating from 1775 to 1963, some of which include local history and genealogical content.
- Library of Congress, Genealogy Collections: Select list of published guides to the genealogy collections of the Library of Congress focused on general resources, directories, indexes and finding aids, international sources, U.S. ethnic groups and communities, and U.S. local and military history.
- Library of Congress, Map Collections, 1544-2004: World’s largest and most comprehensive cartographic collection with collections numbering more than 5.5 million maps, 80,000 atlases, 6,000 reference works, 19,000 CDs/DVDs, and other cartographic materials in various formats.
- Library of Congress, Local History and Genealogy Reference Services: The largest library complex in the world. Maintains a premier collection of U. S. as well as foreign genealogical and local historical publications, manuscripts, personal papers, and digital resources.
- National Archives and Records Administration: National repository of the records of the United States Federal government. Facilitates use of federal records for research by the public; supports genealogical education and research; maintains a museum and heritage center.
- National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Library, Museum, and Archives: Non-profit lineage society that maintains a library, archives, and museum focused on lineage research, American heritage, social history, and pre-industrial material culture.
- Southern Oral History Program: Provides resource and training on collecting and preserving oral histories.
Bibliographies, Reference Guides, and How-To Guides
- Adoption Resources for Discovering Your Birth Family: Compiled by Family Tree Magazine. Identifies websites, organizations and registries, bibliographies, and tutorials on adoption research.
- American Libraries Association (ALA) Resources on Genealogy: Resource page created to help librarians serving genealogists.
- American Libraries Association (ALA) Select List of Books on researching family or local history: List of select print resources on genealogy resources, guidelines, and standards.
- Ancestry’s Concise Genealogical Dictionary: Guide to common terms which may be unusual or dated that are encountered during genealogical research. Compiled and verified from a variety of dictionaries and encyclopedias.
- Billion Graves: World’s largest source for searchable GPS cemetery data. Uses app to capture gravesite photos and burial data.
- Birthdate Calculator: Calculates birthdate from death date and age of death, based on the Gregorian calendar.
- Cyndi’ List on Writing Your Family’s History: Crowd sourced list on writing and publishing a family history.
- Cyndi’s List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet: Crowd sourced website with categorized and cross-referenced indexes to free genealogical resources on the internet.
- Cyndi’s List: Genealogy Dictionaries and Glossaries: List of forty-one links to genealogy dictionaries and glossaries.
- Dictionary of Genealogy and Archaic Terms: Compiled by Rootsweb.com. Contains common buzzwords, terminology and legal words found in genealogy work.
- Evidence Explained: Detailed online guide to crafting citations for original records and sources not covered in many citation manuals. Complements print publications. Includes detailed QuickLessons on citing sources.
- FamilySearch Wiki on Adoption Research: Compiled list of U.S. adoption resources and services arranged by state.
- FamilySearch.org: Largest free genealogy websites with millions of digitized records, apps, and genealogy education resources.
- Findagrave: World’s largest gravesite collection. Includes more than 190 million virtual memorials, photos, grave records, cemetery history, and biographies on the deceased.
- Genealogy Timelines: Find the Gaps in Your Research!: Demonstrates how to create timelines and use them in genealogical research.
- Geographic Names Information System (GNIS): Compiled and maintained by the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Board on Geographic Names. Contains more than 2 million geographic names in the U.S. including populated places, schools, lakes, streams, valley, and ridges.
- How to Hire a Professional Genealogist: Guidelines prepared by the Association of Professional Genealogist for hiring professional genealogists. Complements Member Directory which identifies professional genealogists who accept clients for fee-based services.
- Maps Research Guide: A guide to maps databases available via the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives featuring links to map resources.
- National Archives and Records Administration Resources for Genealogists: PDFs of research forms, family tree charts, federal census forms, immigration forms, and military forms to assist with documenting genealogy research.
- Spreadsheet: Birth Date Calculator V4: Calculates a range of birth dates based on the age recorded in a census, marriage, or death record.
Writing and Publishing Your Family History: Compiled by American Ancestors, included How-To guides, basic steps, genealogical formats, tips, publishing.
DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
- GEDmatch: Provides a free web-based platform for comparing autosomal test results from multiple DNA testing companies.
- The Genetic Genealogist: Provides information and services on combining traditional genealogical techniques with genetic research.
International Society of Genetic Genealogists: Society that advocates for and educate about the use of genetics as a tool for genealogical research. The site includes a beginner’s guide to genetic genealogy and testing options.
- American Family Immigration History Center (AFIHC) Ellis Island: Maintains database of 65 million searchable records on the immigrant experience in America. Provides genealogy services, and supports the collection of immigrant stories.
- The Robert Frederick Smith Center: Assists visitors in learning the basics of researching African American genealogy through virtual genealogy research sessions. The center also hosts public programs, lectures, and workshops on African American genealogy and family history.
- Trace Indian Ancestry: Resource created by the U.S. Department of the Interior. Includes research tips on conducting research, information on the tribal enrollment process, and links to the Tribal Leaders Directory to federally recognized tribes.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services Genealogy Program: A fee-for-service program that provides researchers with access to historical immigration and naturalization records of deceased immigrants.
Genealogy Societies and Professional Organizations
- Association of Professional Genealogists: Not-for-profit professional organization dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the genealogical profession. Maintains a Code of Ethics and Professional Practices and Member Directory of nearly 3,000 genealogy professionals; advocates for records access and preservation; facilitates networking amongst professionals in the field, and supports education initiatives.
- Board for Certification of Genealogists: Non-Profit organization that promotes standards, competence, and ethics among professional and lay genealogists through programs of outreach, publication, and education.
- Genealogical Speakers Guild: Society that facilitates better communication between genealogical speakers and societies. Maintains a directory of members organized by name, specialty, or lecture style.
- Hereditary Society Community of the United States of America: Promotes historical education and compiles a list of hereditary societies.
- International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists: International credentialing organizations dedicated to testing an individual’s competence in genealogical research.
- National Genealogical Society, and Federation of Genealogical Societies: A recently merged organization (2020) that supports individual genealogists and genealogy societies to connect their families to the past and for the future. Supports genealogy education and professional development through annual conferences, online courses, genealogical publications, and online resources.
- Preservation Organizations and Resources: Online resource for historical preservation, building restoration, and cultural resource management in the U.S. and Canada. Directory identifies more than 4,500 historical societies, 7,000 history museums/house museums, comprehensive guide to grants and funding sources, jobs, and preservation professionals.
Software and Technology
- Best Social Media Accounts for Genealogy: Compiled by Family Tree Magazine. Lists social media accounts that provide opportunities to connect with experts and other genealogists.
- Bibliography of Books Related to Genealogical Research and Technology Available in ALIC (Archives Library and Information Center of the National Archives): Compiled by staff at the National Archives. Identifies resources related to genealogy and technology. The list provides an overview of publications that are likely available at local and other libraries.
- Cyndi’s List on Software and Computers: Crowd sourced list on genealogical software, mobile devices, tools, and utilities.