Genealogical research has become one of America's favorite pastimes and the American Library Association has excellent resources to help librarians serving genealogists. The Reference and User Services Association (RUSA), a division of ALA, offers guidelines for genealogical collections and services, as well as online continuing education courses.

ALA Resources

  • Genealogy Committee
    The Genealogy Committee [of RUSA] provides a forum serving the interests of genealogists and of librarians whose work is in, or related to, the field of genealogy.
  • Guidelines for a Unit or Course of Instruction in Genealogical Research at Schools of Library and Information Science
    These guidelines by RUSA provide an outline for a unit or course of instruction in genealogical research. They are intended to encourage and assist library schools to add training in genealogical research to their curriculum.
  • Guidelines for Developing Beginning Genealogical Collections and Services
    These guidelines developed by RUSA address collection development, personnel, access, and fiscal considerations for genealogical services.
  • Guidelines for Establishing Local History Collections
    These guidelines, developed by RUSA, are intended to assist those beginning local history collections. In surveying the literature about the collecting of local materials it is apparent that many have already written about the use and the maintenance of the various media employed in local history.
  • Local History Committee (RUSA)
    The Committee offers an opportunity to discuss issues and concerns related to the management of local history services and collections. Activities include writing guidelines that address services, collections, and preservation of local history materials. Programs sponsored by the Committee include newspaper indexing, house histories, and the care of photography collections.


(Note: This is only a partial and representative list.  Many, many more from state libraries, individual libraries, etc. may be found using a web search with the terms < pathfinders genealogical research >.)

Print Resources

Peters, Chrissie Anderson. "Genealogy for Beginners: From Both Sides of the Reference Desk." Tennessee Libraries 56, no. 2 (2006).
A list of suggested books has been created by the ALA Library using WorldCat.

Suggested Magazines

  • ''Ancestry''
  • ''Chicago Genealogist''
  • ''Daughters of the American Revolution''
  • ''Family History Magazine''
  • ''Family Tree Magazine''
  • ''Genealogical Computing''
  • ''Heritage Quest''
  • ''National Genealogical Society News Magazine''
  • ''National Genealogical Society Quarterly''


(Note: This is only a partial and representative list.  Many, many more from state libraries, individual libraries, etc. may be found using a web search with the terms < library genealogical research >.)
American Family Immigration History Center (AFIHC) - Ellis Island  More than 22 million passengers and members of ships' crews entered the United States through Ellis Island and the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924. Located in the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and on the World Wide Web, the  allows visitors to explore the extraordinary collection of immigrant arrival records stored in the Ellis Island Archives.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Genealogy Program is a fee-for-service program providing family historians and other researchers with timely access to historical immigration and naturalization records. See the Los Angeles Times newspaper article, "A government genealogy service lets family history leap off the page, 1/17/10.
Allen County (IN) Public Library Genealogy Center - This renowned collection includes more than 350,000 printed volumes and 513,000 items of microfilm and microfiche.
Canadian Genealogy Centre The equivalent of the U.S. National Archives, whose purpose is to facilitate the discovery of roots and family histories as a basic part of Canadian heritage. And to encourage the use of genealogy and the resources available in libraries and archives as tools for life-long learning.
Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet  A categorized & cross-referenced index to genealogical resources, including vital records, cemetery records, locality specific databases, etc.   
Family Search Created and run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), this site contains a large and freely searchable archive. Among the data are: the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), U.S. Federal Census for 1880 or the 1881 census for both the British Isles and Canada, a vital records index containing birth, marriage, and death records from around the world. You can download free software for managing your family tree on your computer. Personal Ancestral File or PAF is both powerful and easy to use even for a novice computer user. A very helpful site and free to all visitors.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies is an umbrella organization whose membership is made up of the hundreds of genealogical and historical societies in the United States, as well as some international organizations.
The Library of Congress has a tremendous variety of material on many subjects relating to American history, veterans, and other areas sure to be of interest to any genealogist. Of particular interest, you should be sure to see the American Memory section which provides access to many photographs, maps, historic documents, as well as audio and video. An especially useful site for educators. 
The National Archives and Records Administration This site contains a tremendous amount of information on everything from genealogy to White House tape recordings, Presidential Libraries to the Declaration of Independence. Jump directly to the genealogy section of the site.
National Genealogical Society A non-profit organization that was formed in 1903 for the benefit of all levels of genealogy (beginner to professional) and promotes education, a high standard of research principles and scholarly practices, and interest in genealogy, family history, and a range of other related activities.
1930 This site is a general reference for the United States Federal Census and is useful for anyone conducting family history research. Since 1790, the U.S. has conducted a federal census every 10 years and these records contain valuable clues regarding the location and makeup of all American families. A great starting point to learn about census for genealogy research.
Pier 21 is Canada's equivalent to Ellis Island. From 1928 to 1971, this port received over one million immigrants, wartime evacuees, refugees, troops, war brides and their children. In 1999, Pier 21 reopened after a renovation of the historic building and now pays tribute to those who passed through its doors.
USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together to provide Web sites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. The Project is non commercial and fully committed to free access of genealogy information for everyone. Organization of the site is by county and state, providing links to all the state Web sites which, in turn, provide gateways to the county. USGenWeb also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level.
Last updated 10 December 2013