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Genealogical Research  

This guide contains starting places for conducting genealogical research.
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
Genealogical Sources Print Page

Sites with Multiple Types of Records

Vital Records (Birth, Marriage, Death)

  • Where to Write for Vital Records
    Information about every state and U.S. territory's process and policies for obtaining copies of vital records - and links to where more information can be found.
  • Family Search - Ancestral File  
    Includes vital records from other countries. Please click the "i" icon for important information. ALSO: Check out the "Family History Library" links. From Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
  • MA Births, Marriages, & Deaths 1841-1910
    Search an online database of vital records from the Massachusetts Archives. Be sure to read the instructions.

Research Tips

When searching for records, ask yourself: Who cares? What agency, municipality, or person cares enough about the information you're looking for to keep and organize it? Courts? Historical societies? At the local or national level? This will help you zero in better on a starting point.

Search for multiple spellings of names. Some collections may use the "Soundex" system, which brings together differently spelled names that sound the same. See the National Archives' explanation of Soundex.



Other Places/People to Contact

If you know which state you need your information from, try consulting this list of state libraries and archives, and seeing what records they have available.

If you have a city or county in mind, try Googling that city or county with the words "archives" or "public records" to find a local agency.

Consult a list of "Repositories of Primary Sources" all over the globe (from the University of Idaho).

The library also owns a reference book called The Genealogist's Address Book, which can help you identify other local and nationality-specific sources.

    Suggest a source!

    Have you found a great genealogical source? Submit it here and have it added to the guide.

    Immigration Records

    • Passenger Manifests - Boston 1848-1891  
      Searchable database of immigrants who arrived in the port of Boston by ship, from the Massachusetts Archives. The collection is in the process of being digitized; contact the Archives if you don't find the name you're looking for.
    • Ellis Island - Advanced Passenger Search
      Search arrivals from 1892-1924 by many parameters, including ethnicity. You can also search "sounds like" variations of last names. Free registration required to view results.

    Military Records

    Census Records


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