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Genealogy

Genealogy Research at IU

Genealogy research has come a long way in the past 20 years. Traditionally, researchers had to go to different libraries and use things called microfilm to do genealogical research. While a considerable amount of material has indeed been digitized, it is important to remember that everything you need is likely NOT digitized. Resources like ancestry.com are valuable, but they are not a one stop shop for tracing your family history.

One of the first things a researcher should do is conduct an interview(s) with family members. Get as many dates/locations/details as you can: then prepare for your library search. While there are undoubtedly an endless supply of apps and computer programs that will offer to help, it is always a good idea to use paper and pencil. The first reason for this is that you have no idea what information those apps and programs are storing about you and your family and how that data might be used. Secondly, having a paper trail allows you know how people, places, and events are linked together (provided you take proper notes). 

You will encounter rabbit holes and brick walls. Rabbit holes occur when you find one kernel of family history that seemingly never ends. These are exciting, but also a bit vexing. Brick-walls occur when every step you take in research goes nowhere. Be patient and take notes. Also, know that you can always ask a librarian. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the IU libraries for help with your research. 

If you are an Alumni of IU, you can get more information about access to academic databases here

The Document Delivery department of the IU Libraries can help researchers get access to items that are not held by the IU Libraries. IU has considerable resources available, but some times you might find yourself wanting to read a hometown newspaper that we do not have in digital or print form. Users can request an Interlibrary Loan for known items and the Document Delivery department will attempt to locate it for you.