Using the Library of Congress for Genealogy Research

If you haven't visited the Library of Congress' Local History and Genealogy Collection, you are missing out on an awesome free genealogy resource. The LOC has a surprisingly large collection of genealogical material, including over 50,000 genealogues and 100,000 local histories. These cover not only the United States, but also other countries, especially the British Isles and Germany.

If you don't live close enough to visit the LOC, don't worry. You have a couple options. Some genealogists have reported success using the Ask the Librarian function to request a lookup or copy of a specific item. I have not tested this myself, but it may be worth a try. If you do try this, try to be specific and limit the amount of information you ask for. We don't want to overwhelm the librarians.

Some of the items are also available through inter-library loan. You won't be able to check them out, but you can view them at your local library. It may be possible to find a local lookup volunteer. These individuals are people who are willing to visit local resources. In most cases, they do not charge a fee. If a fee is charged, it's generally for whatever they were charged for copying or postage.

There is a search box at the bottom of the page that you can use to search the genealogy collection. You can also check for a specific surname by clicking on The Collections on the left side of the page and then scrolling down to click on the Vertical File Subject Index.


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