All about National Resources
National resources include the National Archives, the Family History Library and Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Library of Congress, national libraries, and national historical societies. This topic tells you what type of information you may find through national resources and how it may help you in your research. Click any of the topics listed at the bottom of this topic to get more complete descriptions of each resource's holdings.
Information Available through National Resources
Both the National Archives and the Family History Centers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as many other libraries, have United States census data. United States census data is available up through 1920, and can contain a wealth of information, depending on the year that you need to search. For example, some census years include the names and birthplaces of each member of the household and the year of immigration to the United States. This type of information can be especially useful if the ancestors that you are searching for were not born in the United States.
Church records can also be helpful in family research because they contain information about births, deaths, and marriages. Most states didn't begin collecting this type of information until the late 1800's or early 1900's, so if you're looking for information about events that took place before then, your best bet is to search the church records where the family lived. Although church records are available through church archives and state and local libraries and archives, the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is also a good source for finding all types of church records.
You also shouldn't overlook family and local histories when you do your research. Family histories are books that people have written about specific families, while local histories give information about a specific town or county, often including information about some of the people who lived in the area. If a family history or local history contains information about the ancestors that you are searching for, it means that someone has already done at least some of your research for you. It's worth taking the time to find out if one exists. While state and local libraries are good places to find family and local histories, you may also find them among the holdings of national libraries and national historical societies.
There are many other types of nationally-held records that can be valuable for adding information to your family tree. Among them are military records, which are available through the National Archives; passenger lists, which can be found at the National Archives, as well as selected national libraries and historical societies; land records; the Social Security Death Index; and naturalization records, available through both the National Archives and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All of these types of records often contain birth dates and birthplaces, as well as information about immediate family members.