Finding living relatives with family histories and genealogies
Family histories and genealogies are books about a particular family. You will only find the names of living relatives in the more recently printed family histories and genealogies. You may be able to find one about your family in a library. Remember, though, just because a book contains information about a family that has the same surname as your family, it doesn't mean that the information in that book is about your family. In order to make a connection between your ancestors and the people mentioned in a family history or genealogy, you must start with the name of an individual that you know is one of your ancestors and then find that individual in a family history. In addition, to make sure that the information you're adding to your family tree is factual, you should try to verify the information that you find in family histories and genealogies.
To find a family history or genealogy, you need to spend some time at a few libraries. Probably the best libraries in which to search are genealogy and public libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. In addition, you may want to check in larger libraries, such as state or university libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. If you are unable to go to those libraries in person, find out if they are part of an interlibrary loan system.
The Library of Congress and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both have extensive collections of published family histories. You can check the Family History Library catalog through your local Family History Center, and the Library of Congress staff will perform searches for books about a particular surname. Neither the Family History Library nor the Library of Congress lends bound books through the mail. However, many Family History Library books are on microfilm, and you can borrow those. Otherwise, you need to locate the book elsewhere or make a visit to the library. For information about other libraries with a national focus, see the topic Libraries with a national focus, including LDS.
When looking for pedigrees or genealogies, many people use computerized pedigree or genealogy indexes to help them find the pedigree or genealogy that they need. Some libraries have computerized pedigree or genealogy indexes and you can also purchase selected genealogies on CD-ROM from Genealogy.com, Inc.
The FamilyFinder Index, a feature of Family Tree Maker software and also available for searching at FamilyTreeMaker.com, is an index of over 220 million names from census records, marriage records, Social Security death records, actual family trees, and more. This feature can help you by telling you if your ancestor's name is actually listed on one of the genealogy CDs Genealogy.com sells. Using the FamilyFinder Index couldn't be easier -- all you need to do is enter the names of your ancestors right into your own computer. If the FamilyFinder Index tells you that your ancestors are listed, then it's simple to locate your ancestor's record. For more information about FamilyFinder, or for information about purchasing CD-ROM indexes, see the topic All about FamilyFinder.
There are two other places to check for family histories and genealogies. Try genealogy lending libraries -- these are companies that have book catalogs and will lend books through the mail for a fee. The addresses for three such libraries are listed below. If you have a modem, you can also search selected library catalogs through the Internet. For example, part of the Library of Congress catalog is accessible via modem.
Genealogy Lending Libraries
American Genealogy Lending Library
Telephone: (801) 298-5358
National Genealogy Society
Telephone: (703) 525-0050
New England Historical and Genealogical Society
Telephone: (617) 536-5740
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