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11 Great Online Libraries for Family Historians

By Family Tree Editors Premium

These 11 online libraries are a vital resource for family historians.

BYU Family History Archives
This Brigham Young University (BYU) genealogy website combines family history books from the collections of the Family History Library, the Allen County Public Library, Houston’s Clayton Library, the Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center, the BYU Harold B. Lee Library, the BYU Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ historical library.

Canadian Genealogy Centre
Library and Archives Canada keeps expanding its online offerings, with the 1891 census joining the 1881 and 1911 enumerations, along with 1871 Ontario and 1906 Northwest Territories censuses. You’ll also find land, military, immigration and vital records, directories and a database to track your Mountie ancestors.

Denver Public Library Western History and Genealogy $
Besides an online catalog and extensive finding aids for Western history, you’ll find a digitized collection of more than 600,000 images, most dating from the 19th century. Find something you like? You can order prints right online.

Google Book Search
Fast, familiar and easy Google search is applied to the contents of 7 million books, many with previews and some with full text online. But that’s only the beginning, as a groundbreaking new agreement will soon expand Book Search both in range and depth of online content.

Library of Congress
Check out the American Memory collection of historic maps, photos, documents, audio and video; historic newspapers via the Chronicling America project; 1 million images, representing about half the library’s holdings; and the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC).

Making of America
Making of America represents a digital chronicle of the 19th century in print. The University of Michigan site encompasses approximately 10,000 books and 50,000 journal articles—3.8 million pages from nearly 13,000 volumes. The tandem Cornell University site emphasizes journals, monographs and magazines, ranging from Scribner’s to Scientific American, totaling more than 900,000 pages from more than 1,200 volumes. Both websites are searchable or browsable by title; you can browse the Michigan site by subject.

National Archives and Records Administration
Besides getting you started on your search for military, immigration and other records at the archives, this site offers two digital peeks into the archives’ holdings. Its Archival Research Catalog (ARC) indexes 5.4 million records and includes 142,000 digital copies. Access to Archival Databases (AAD) lets you search more than 85 million historical electronic records, among them photos, maps, a smattering of immigration records and more than 9 million WWII enlistment files.

New York Public Library Digital Library
You don’t need a library card to access this site’s half-million images and documents, covering American Indian portraits, African-American history and migration, historical photographs, surveyors of the American West, Holocaust memorial books and much more.

Online Archive of California
Open your golden gates with this compilation of historical materials from museums, historical societies and archives. You’ll find more than 120,000 images, 50,000 pages of documents, letters and oral histories, and 8,000 guides to collections in the Golden State.

Now available for your mobile phone and Facebook, WorldCat searches the collections of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide—more than 1 billion holdings in all. There’s no better tool to identify obscure or out-of-print books to borrow on interlibrary loan.

Digital Public Library of America
The Digital Public Library of America contains over 16,847,543 items from libraries, archives, and museums across the country. The collections include letters, photographs, posters, oral histories, video clips, sheet music, and more and the contributing institutions range from small museums to large public libraries.