Genealogies - Published and Unpublished

Background Reading

The Source. 929.1072 So84e. SSH (Social Science and History Deptartment).

This handout should be used in conjunction with the FLP handout titled Biographies, Autobiographies, and Diaries. Genealogical information can be found in biographies and vice versa. Using these two handouts together will increase the probability of finding what you are looking for.

Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP)


For one or more related families, see:

Genealogies in the Library of Congress: a Bibliography with supplements. SSH 016.929 K128g.

A Complement to Genealogies in the Library of Congress. SSH 016.929 K128g compl.

Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families. Shelved at 929.2097 G286o. SSH.

Genealogical and Local History Books in Print. SSH 016.9291 G286c.

American and British Genealogy and Heraldry: a Selected List of Books. SSH 016.9291 F472a.

The American Genealogist; Being a Catalog of Family Histories.... SSH A929 W591.

Once a published genealogy of interest is found, try to find it in the FLP online catalog. If the item is not part of the FLP collection, ask a librarian about how to use the Interlibrary Loan System.


For numerous UNRELATED families in a specific geographic area or for UNRELATED families of a particular ethnic or religious group, look in collective genealogies like Colonial and Revolutionary Families of Pennsylvania. SSH 929 C71. Also see Genealogies of Pennsylvania Families. SSH 929.2097 G286o. Look for collective genealogies in libraries located in the geographical area of interest or in special collection libraries; e.g., the Free Library of Philadelphia or the library of the Mennonite Historical Society. Collective genealogies are usually, but not always, displayed in a prominent place in the browsing area of a library collection.


Most local histories have biographical sections that contain detailed genealogical information. To find lists of local histories, look in:

United States Local Histories in the Library of Congress. SSH 016.973 Un31u.

A Bibliography of American County Histories. SSH 016.973 F472b.

Genealogical and Local History Books in Print. SSH 016.9291 G286a.

Bibliography of Pennsylvania History and supplements. SSH 016.9748 P3843b.

Reel Index to the Microfilm Collection of Pennsylvania County and Regional Histories. MAP (Map Department).

Once a local history of interest is found, try to find it in the FLP online catalog. If the item is not part of the FLP collection, ask a librarian about interlibrary loan.


Use these subject headings to locate genealogies and local histories:

"SURNAME" FAMILY   Howell Family
"CITY (ST.)" - HISTORY   Philadelphia (Pa.) - History
"CITY (ST.)" - GENEALOGY   Philadelphia (Pa.) - Genealogy
"STATE" - HISTORY   Pennsylvania - History
"STATE" - GENEALOGY   Pennsylvania - Genealogy


See these published catalogs of libraries with extensive genealogical holdings:

Dictionary Catalog of the Local History and Genealogy Division of the NY Public Library (all items without call numbers are not available at FLP. However, most are available at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania or at local academic libraries).

Genealogical Index of the Newberry Library.

The Greenlaw Index of the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Catalog of American Genealogies in the Library of the Long Island Historical Society. SSH 016.929 L854c.

National Society DAR Library Catalog. Vol. 1. Family Histories and Genealogies.

Catalog of the National Genealogical Society. Internet.

See these published catalogs of libraries that lend genealogical material by mail:

Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Pennsylvania. SSH 016.9748 H671g4.

Circulating Library Catalog for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (v. 1, genealogies; v. 2, Histories and Research Aids). SSH 016.929 N42c.

Catalog of the National Genealogical Society. Internet.

Try OCLC. OCLC is a national catalog used for interlibrary loan purposes among other things. Use OCLC to find hard-to-locate books, to borrow them, or to determine which libraries own them. Staff of the Interlibrary Loan Department will make these searches for you.


Think about genealogical periodicals in geographical terms, then review those that cover the area of interest.

Local (city, county, or region of a state). E.g., Journal of the Lancaster County Historical Society. SSH 974.815 L221j.

State. E.g., Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine. SSH A929 G28.

National Region. E.g., New England Historical and Genealogical Register. SSH 929 N42.

National. E.g.:

Index to American Genealogies (Munsell's Index). SSH016.9293 In2t.

Donald Lines Jacobus' Index to Genealogical Periodicals. SSH 016.9291 J159d.

Genealogical Periodical Annual Index. SSH 016.929 G286p.

Periodical Source Index (PERSI). Available at the Genealogical Society of PA on CD.

National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine. SSH 369 Am25.

America: History and Life. SSH 016.97 Am35h.


To become familiar with the overall structure of genealogical periodical literature, see An Index to Genealogical Periodical Literature, 1960-1977. SSH 016.9291 Sp37i. Also see A Survey of American Genealogical Periodicals and Periodical Indexes. SSH 016.9291 Sp37s.


There are few manuscript and pamphlet holdings of genealogical interest at FLP. When at other libraries and archives, however, always ask about manuscript and pamphlet holdings. There are ALWAYS some manuscript and pamphlet holdings that are not accessible via catalogs. Some published manuscript catalogs at FLP are:

Local and State. E.g.: Guide to the Manuscript Collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. SSH 011.31 H629g.

Regional. E.g.: Guide to the Draper Manuscripts. SSH 016.9748 H232g.

National. E.g.: National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and Index to Personal Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, 1959-1984. From 1985 to the present, see individual volumes. All volumes are in the 2d Floor Hallway of the Free Library.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania (HSP)

The HSP is a great place to find genealogical information on early Pennsylvanians.

Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP)

The GSP has many published genealogies. The Periodical Source Index (PERSI) and a 100 year index to the Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine are available on CD at the GSP.

National Archives - Mid-Atlantic Branch (NARA)

Genealogical & Biographical Research: a Select Catalog of National Archives Microfilm Publications. Available for purchase at NARA.

Genealogies Submitted to the Mormons

All Family History Centers of the Mormon Church have a catalog that lists many of their holdings in Utah. Many family histories and genealogies not available elsewhere can be found here. However, if the material has not been microfilmed, it cannot be borrowed. You can go to Utah yourself, have a professional genealogist in Utah review it for you, or have a friend visiting Utah look at the document for you.

Many of the records held by the Mormons have the submitter's name or some other source associated with the record. Learn how to identify and contact these submitters.

For each of the 50 states, the Mormons have published State Research Outlines. Use these excellent outlines to identify statewide collective genealogies and biographies. They are available on the Internet at

Genealogies Submitted to Hereditary Societies

Look for published indexes to application papers of hereditary societies. E.g., Register of the General Society of the War of 1812 and suppls. SSH 369.13 So139r. To locate these indexes make a keyword search in the FLP catalog using the most significant words in the name of the hereditary society. Most of these societies are listed in The Hereditary Register of the United States of America. SSH 369.1 H42r.

Visit hereditary societies. E. g., The office of The Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution is in Philadelphia.

Genealogies in the Possession of Genealogists

Most genealogical societies have a 3x5 card file or some other device that lists researchers interested in particular surnames. Ask about them.

Become familiar with books that list family or surname organizations. E.g., Directory of Family Associations. SSH 929.2025 D628o.

Read periodicals that list persons interested in particular surnames. E.g., Genealogical Helper, 929.105 G286h, and Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, A929 G28. Both are in SSH.

Try a mass mail-out to persons in a geographical area who have the surname of interest.


Many genealogists are publishing their research results on the Internet. Look at all of the items under "Find Content" at