Whether you come from a family that proudly displays their coat of arms in the foyer, or knows very little about where they came from, you may have some questions about your background. Being stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic means that we may have more time on our hands, but conducting genealogical research isn’t as straightforward as a simple Google search.
Though many historical records have been digitised, some require you to be inside a library to access them. Now that we don’t have that option, libraries like the New York Public Library are making some of its genealogical research resources available online—including their reference librarians. Here are a few options:
Use the National Archives
Regardless of where you’re located and if you have a library card, you’ll be able to access a large number of genealogical research resources through the National Archives. These include:
Whether you’re a professional genealogist or looking into your family for the first time, this is a great first stop for online information.
Remote access to databases
Databases like Ancestry, Newspapers.com, America’s Historical Newspapers, The New York Times Historical Database and the African American Historical Serials Collection are typically only available to use for within the physical walls of the library. But in the midst of the pandemic, the NYPL has made these available to their library card holders regardless of location. Check with your local library to see what you have access to through their system.
There are also a variety of online resources anyone can access (without a library card), including the NYPL’s online research guides for genealogy, like:
Ask a genealogist
If you’re stumped and still have questions about your research, librarians at the NYPL who specialise in genealogy are available to answer them. You can contact them via email at [email protected] or use their web form. According to the NYPL, at this point, most of the questions posed to their librarians have been answered online, so it’s worth a shot.