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Best Virtual Library Websites of 2015
By David A. Fryxell Premium
Library websites are great resources for digging up information on your family history. Use these library resources to enhance your investigating.
This site is far more than just a local library for Fort Wayne, Ind. With a genealogy collection second only to that of the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, this library uses its site as a portal to African-American and Native American databases, military records, family Bibles and more. Use the Genealogy Center Surname File to identify others researching your same surname.
Explore more than 10 million digitized items from libraries, archives and museums in this fast-growing, 2-year-old site that draws on the resources of some of the nation’s leading repositories. You can search the whole collection with a single click, or narrow your search to a place or time period.
A new look makes it easier to explore this trove of historical documents, with options to browse by era, region or topic, plus hundreds of maps and a searchable timeline. Those with Civil War ancestors will want to start with the searchable online edition of the 128-volume Officials Records (the “OR”) of the Civil War, complete with an index and atlas.
This site helps you access many of the riches of the nation’s library, including searching the catalog as well as the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. The American Memory collection <memory.loc.gov> digitizes everything from maps to old advertising circulars, even audio and video recordings. And the Chronicling America newspaper collection <chroniclingamerica.loc.gov> now tops 9.4 million pages from the country’s past, spanning 1836 to 1922.
A virtual visit to the “nation’s attic” can retrieve World War II enlistment files and other historical electronic records. Order military veterans’ service records here, view videos of popular genealogy workshops or plan your in-person visit.
We love this Chicago genealogy library for its Atlas of Historical County Boundaries, an essential tool for figuring out where your ancestors’ records wound up. But the library’s site also is home to Chicago history projects including a collection of translated foreign-language newspaper articles from the 1860s to the 1930s.
You don’t need a library card to explore more than 825,000 digitized images, mapping tools and even a project linking 1940 census data to New York City telephone directories. Start with the Digital Collections link, then search or browse.
A variety of widgets and apps makes it even easier to search the world’s libraries—now including the FHL—totaling 2 billion books in 10,000 repositories. You may not have to travel far to access your finds, either: WorldCat shows you which library closest to you has the item you want.
See more of the 101 best genealogy websites of 2015: