There are vast quantities of materials housed in repositories all
across the United States and Canada that are useful to genealogists.
Compiled genealogies, manuscripts, local histories, abstracted or
transcribed vital records, church records--the list goes on and on.
While our local libraries and other research facilities can offer a
broad range of materials to use, they will not be able to hold copies of
every book for every area. No library can. Not even the Library of
The Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints (LDS) holds millions (over 2.5M at last count) of
records on microfilm. They do not have copies of all records either --
at least not yet. So how can a researcher access materials that are not
available to them in their own backyard? There are several ways.
The first is to visit your local LDS Family History Center.
Recognizing that not everyone can travel to Salt Lake City, LDS has set
up Family History Centers all across the country and all over the world.
Researchers can search for records in the Family History Library
Catalog and request to have copies of microfilms sent to their local
center. Rental charges are $3.50 for the first thirty days. For $3.25 it
can be extended for an additional 60 days, and an additional $3.25 will
keep the film in the center for an additional year after the 90 days.
If you would like to keep a film in the center longer than that, you
will need to talk to the director of the center.
LDS microfilms can also be accessed through the NEHGS Research
Library. There is one standard rental rate of $6.50, which keeps the
film in our library for about 60 days. After that the film must be
returned to Salt Lake City. Films cannot be renewed or kept on
indefinite loan here. Film rentals are processed in the Dean C. and
Roberta S. Smith Technology Room on the fourth floor of the library.
Film rentals cannot be processed over the telephone but must be made in
Another valuable resource is the interlibrary loan system. In 1902
the Library of Congress established itself as the "library of last
resort" and agreed to start lending some of its materials to other
libraries when the materials were not available elsewhere. This year the
Library of Congress alone will handle over 50,000 requests for book
loans and photocopies.
The American Library Association has established standards for
service through the interlibrary loan system. This system allows
materials from one library to be sent to another library for use by its
patrons. In many instances the materials may not be allowed to leave the
library once they have arrived and you will need to use them only in
the building. Contact your local library to see if they are part of the
interlibrary loan system. Most public libraries do belong, but some
smaller ones may not.
Many libraries now have their catalogs available for search on their
websites. When searching these catalogs it may not always be possible to
determine whether or not the book is a circulating copy. Once you have
found a book in a catalog that you would like to borrow, print out the
bibliographic listing and bring it to your local library. If you cannot
print out a bibliographic listing, copy all of the information on the
book, including the title, author/editor, name and location of
publisher, year of publication, and Library of Congress or other call
number. Any other pertinent information given about the book should also
be listed. Your librarian will then work with you to find and order a
copy of the book. The reference librarian can check databases such as
OCLC (Online Computer Library Center), to determine which, if any,
libraries might have a copy of the desired book.
Not every book in every library is available for circulation. In
cases where the books do not circulate, photocopies of portions of a
book can be ordered. In addition, many articles from periodicals can be
photocopied and sent to you through the interlibrary loan system. The
Periodical Source Index (PERSI), available in most libraries and at Ancestry.com, will
provide not only citations for the periodicals in which articles were
originally published but also the names of libraries holding copies of
Books and periodicals are not the only materials available on
interlibrary loan. Many repositories loan microforms as well. There may
be restrictions on which records are available for loan. The National
Archives and Records Administration (NARA), for example, will loan
copies of all U.S. census and Soundex microfilms. Unfortunately, it does
not offer interlibrary loan of all materials. Passenger lists, for
example, are not available for loan. NARA lends materials to both
individuals and institutions. For details contact your local NARA
branch, which is online at http://www.nara.gov/.
The National Archives of Canada (NAC) is an invaluable resource for
interlibrary loan. Any part of their collection that is available on
microfilm is available for loan. Their catalog is available online as ArchiviaNet at
www.archives.ca. NAC offers loans only to institutions, so you must use
the interlibrary loan system.
Private research libraries may or may not offer parts of their
collection on interlibrary loan. NEHGS, in addition to over 200,000
volumes in our research collection, has over 25,000 volumes in our
circulating library. While the primary focus of our collections is New
England, we do have a large number of materials for other areas. In
fact, only one-third of our circulating library deals with New England.
The rest of the materials cover other states and foreign countries,
including Canada. In addition to materials covering Canada in general
you will find holdings dealing with the provinces of New Brunswick,
Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec,
Saskatchewan and the Yukon Territory. Following are just a few examples
of the volumes in our circulating library dealing with Canada..
The Public Archives of Canada (now the National Archives of Canada)
published a checklist in 1981 of all the parish registers. This may be
helpful in locating original records. There are other guides to
researching Canadian records, such as Angus Baxter's In Search of
Your Canadian Roots, Althea Douglas's Here Be Dragons! Navigating
the Hazards Found in Canadian Family Research, and the Genealogist's
Handbook for Atlantic Canada Research by Terrence M. Punch and
George F. Sanborn, Jr.
The Society also lends volumes of vital records culled from newspaper
and church records, such as the series from the New Brunswick
Genealogical Society on New Brunswick Vital Records from Newspapers (1784-1836),
and Jean M. Holder's Vital Statistics from Halifax Newspapers (1823-1839).
Allan Everett Marble's book on Death, Burials, and Probate of Nova
Scotians, 1729-1799 may help locate original source material.
Many local histories are available through the circulating library.
Here are but a few examples:
Three major works on early French-Canadian families can also be found
in the circulating collection:
Among them, these three volumes cover almost every person who came to
the colony of New France before the English conquest.
Volumes in the circulating library collection are available for loan
to any Society member. The two-volume Circulating Library Catalog is
available from the Sales Department for $15.00 plus shipping. For
further information contact the Circulating Library toll free at
Circulating library collections, the LDS Family History Center system
and interlibrary loan are invaluable aids to performing research on
your Canadian ancestors. Talk to your local librarian or Family History
Center staff member to learn even more about them and discover how they
can help you do research without having to make costly trips to distant