Research in Genealogy
The following is a selected list of resources for researching genealogy in the University of Oregon Library System. The University of Oregon collections are strongest in the history of Oregon and the West. You may need to dig deeper and consider borrowing materials from other collections to find information on specific ancestors from other parts of the country or the world. For further assistance contact the Knight Library Reference Desk at (541) 346-1818.
Off-campus access to some of the electronic resources listed on this page is limited to current UO students, faculty, and staff and is indicated by a UO button .
Before beginning library research in genealogy, you should fill out a family group record form for each person you are researching. Using such forms helps you record what you already know and identify any gaps in information. These and other forms are available from Family Search.
Beginning genealogy books are useful for a general orientation to doing genealogical research and for identifying the types of records genealogists use to find specific information about an ancestor. Some also provide addresses to write for state, county and local information.
The Knight Library Reference Section has a few of these books in the beginning of the CS call number area. Try the same numbers in the general library collection upstairs. Most public libraries also have genealogy sections. For help with genealogical terminology, try The Oxford Dictionary of Local & Family History (although it focuses mainly on British history.)
- Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy REF KNIGHT CS47.G79 2000 Good introduction to what genealogical research is and how to do it.
- The Source: a Guidebook of American Genealogy (edited by Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny) REF KNIGHT CS 49 .S65 1997 Directs researchers to sources by record type, ethnic origins and time & place.
- The Library: a Guide to the LDS Family History Library (edited by Johni Cerny and Wendy Elliott) REF KNIGHT Z 675 .C5 L4 1988
- Printed Sources, a Guide to Published Genealogical Records (edited by Kory L. Meyerink) REF KNIGHT Z 5311 .P75 1998
- Ancestry's Red Book: American State, County & Town Sources (edited by Alice Eichholz) REF KNIGHT CS 49 .A55 1991 Guide to sources state by state.
- American & British Genealogy & Heraldry: a Selected List of Books(by P. William Filby) REF KNIGHT Z 5311 .F55 1983
Placing ancestors in their historical & cultural context. The Finding & Borrowing Books section below can help you find regional histories. Other resources to help you get started include:
- Encyclopedia of Local History REF KNIGHT E 180 .K25 2000
- A guide with brief articles, many of them signed by the author. From the introduction p.ix "This book presents ideas to consider, sources to use, and historical fields and trends to explore, and it provides commentary...on a number of subjects that local historians encounter every day." Includes appendices on ethnic groups & religious groups.
- Gale Research Almanacs on U.S. ethnic groups
- Each covers information by nation, and on family, religioun, women, languages, education, the media, the arts, etc. These include the following:
- African-American Almanac REF KNIGHT E185 .N385 7th ed.
- Asian-American Almanac REF KNIGHT E184.O6 A824 1995
- Hispanic-American Almanac KNIGHT E184.S75 H557 1993
- Native North American Almanac REF KNIGHT E77 .N37 1994
- Ethnic & Thematic U.S. History Encyclopedias
- An annotated listed divided by ethnic group and topic.
Online Resources America: History & Life indexes many of the historical magazines issued by state historical societies. However the index does not include every name mentioned in every article. When using the index search by keyword for broader terms such as the county, organization, event or topic you are interested in.
Print indexes to the Oregon Historical Quarterly (1961-1980) OR. COLL. F871 .O43 Index and the Lane County Historian (1956-1991) OR. COLL. F882.L2 L345 can be found in the Oregon Collection.
Index to Genealogical Periodicals REF KNIGHT CD47.J33 1988 is the only such index in the UO Libraries. This is an index to genealogical periodicals beginning in 1932.
Although the Knight Library does not have a genealogical section by that name, it has many titles of interest to genealogists. Most of these can be found using the UO Library Catalog. (Any person who can provide proof of a current Oregon mailing address and is 18 or older can borrow UO Library books for free through the Oregon Card Program.)
Some approaches to locating relevant material in the University of Oregon Library System are:
- Search the Library Catalog by keyword for your topic. Do not put in a personal name, but words like:
- Walker family
- Oregon Trail
- Oregon pioneers
- Search the Library Catalog by Subject for your topic using Library of Congress Subject Headings. If you are searching for states other than Oregon, change the state to the one you are interested in.
- Cemeteries Oregon
- Regimental histories
- Registers of births Oregon
- Marriage records Oregon
- Divorce records Oregon
- Church records and registers Oregon
- Naturalization records Oregon
- Land grants Oregon
- Search the Library Catalog by Subject to find histories of states and other countries.
- Minnesota history
- South Carolina history
- Slovenia history
- Brittany France history
- Norway history
- Search the Library Catalog by Title for books listed in:
- The Source: a Guidebook of American Genealogy (edited by Arlene Eakle and Johni Cerny)
- The Library:a Guide to the LDS Family History Library (edited by Johni Cerny and Wendy Elliott
- Printed Sources, a Guide to Published Genealogical Records (edited by Kory L. Meyerink)
- American & British Genealogy & Heraldry: a Selected List of Books (by P. William Filby)
- Browse the American history section using this call number guide. Besides Oregon and the West, The collection is especially strong in colonial and revolutionary history of the United States. Note that not all titles about the many aspects of United States history are shelved together. If in doubt, ask a reference librarian
- A sampling of books which may be of interest to genealogists in the Knight Library.
Consult Newspaper Resources at the UO Libraries for guides to our newspaper holdings and to newspaper indexes.
The USNP National Union List, KNIGHT REFERENCE Z 6945 .U5 1989, issued by the United States Newspaper Project is part of an effort to identify U.S. newspapers, where published, and which libraries have a microfilm copy.
Other useful sources:
- Finding Obituaries & Vital Information a guide from the UO Libraries
- Index of Obituaries in Boston Newspapers, 1704-1800 which includes cities near Boston
- Virginia Gazette Index, 1736-1780
- San Francisco Newspaper Index, 1904-1959
Oregon city directories and older telephone directories are located in the Oregon Collection in Special Collections. There is a small collection of directories for cities outside of Oregon located in the Oversize Collection on the third floor of the Knight Library. These are mainly from Washington State, California and Idaho and are shelved alphabetically by city.
Oregon Census Materials describes the information available in the Microforms Department on the first floor of Knight Library
There are virtually no censuses for areas outside of Oregon in the UO Libraries. See the Document Center's guide Connect to Census Data for more information.
The Library has indexes to the Cherokee censuses, but copies of the actual rolls are not held by the Library. Search the UO Library Catalog by Subject: Cherokee Indians Censuses.
- UO Library Special Collections & University Archives hold unique and useful information for genealogists. Along with the indexes and directories mentioned above, the Oregon Collection and Manuscripts Collection may be of particular interest. Be sure to check Special Collections' reading room hours before planning a visit.
- The Oregon Collection contains books, journals, and microfilm reflecting history, literature, and life in Oregon and the former Oregon Territory. To complete a thorough search of Oregon Collection holdings you will need to search both the Online UO Library Catalog and a card catalog located in Special Collections.
- The Manuscripts Collection houses diaries and other manuscripts of pioneers and other Oregonians. As with the Oregon Collection, some information on manuscripts is available on the web site, but the Special Collections reading room houses much more information and finding aids in print to help access the collections.
Vital Information about Oregonians
Finding Obituaries & Vital Information a guide from the UO Libraries that includes tips for finding birth, death, marriage & divorce records as well as obituaries.
- Oregon Biography Index (edited by Patricia Brandt and Nancy Guilford and published in 1976) KNIGHT REFERENCE Z5305.U5B7 tells which directories to use to find biographical information about Oregonians.
- The Biography and Genealogy Master Index covers biographical directories of all kinds. Older issues are also available in print at KNIGHT REFERENCE Z 5305 .U5 B562.
- Search the UO Library Catalog by subject for:
- Oregon-Biography, Oregon lawyers, Oregon artists, Oregon pioneers, etc.
- the family name of the person.
Guides to resources for Oregon
- Oregon State Archives Genealogy Page
- Oregon Guide to Genealogical Sources by Connie Lenzen SCA REF Z1327 .L46 1994. (Many other libraries have a copy.)
- There is an Oregon section in: Ancestry's Red Book edited byAlice Eichholz REF KNIGHT CS49 .A55 1991.
- There is an Oregon section in: The Library: a Guide to the LDS Family History Library edited by Johni Cerny and Wendy Elliott REF KNIGHT Z675.C5L4 1988. This book should not be viewed as just a guide to LDS collections but as a way of identifying titles that can be requested via InterLibrary Loan.
The Map & Aerial Photography (MAP) Collection, housed in the Documents Center on the 1st floor of Knight Library, contains maps, atlases and aerial photographs. Among its historical Oregon resources are Oregon Department of Transportation Historic Sets, Oregon Sanbourn Fire Insurance Maps online and USGS Topographic Maps.
A set of maps that is in Microforms is the Cadastral Survey Field Notes and Plats for Oregon MICROFICHE F881 .C32 1982. This is a microfiche set of the original maps and surveyor's notes about the buildings and landscape done as part of the federal land survey of Oregon, beginning in 1851. Background on the Oregon survey is in a book, A History of the Rectangular Survey System by C. Albert White MICROFORMS DESK TA521.W47 1983.
Family History Center (Eugene branch of Later Day Saints) is open to the public. If you haven't been to the Eugene FHC, a visit is strongly recommended. A Description of a typical Family History Center will prepare you for your visit.
- Family History Center-Eugene Oregon West
(located in low building on south side of street, next to church)
3550 West 18th Street
ONLY THE BEGINNING! As helpful as the Internet is, it is only the beginning.
Keep in mind the advice of Cyndi Howells, author of books on searching the Internet for genealogy and compiler of the largest genealogy site on the Web -- "Find leads on the Internet, then go off-line to find the sources you need [i.e. books, public records, etc.]." (Time, April 19,1999, p.55)
History at Home is a helpful guide for getting started with genealogy.
Family Search from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints allows searching of vast files by name, date and location. The LDS Church has collected genealogical records on people from around the world and makes it available through several databases and through the Family History Centers.
The WorldGenWeb project has pages for each country outside the U.S. However as good as they are they tend to slight pages that have general advice about doing genealogical research about countries, so also look at Dianne DaLee's site or World-Wide Genealogy Resources from Family Tree Maker Online.
Last revised March 2015.