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  3. Genealogy
  4. Catalog Search Strategies

Catalog Search Strategies 

 
In order to search the Library catalog effectively for genealogical and historical sources, use the following search strategies to develop a specific and productive search.  All examples use the “subject” search.

Published Family Genealogies

Use the following example to search for a family history or genealogy:
  • [Surname] family

Example:

  • Reynolds family

State and Local Genealogy Resources, History and Biographies

Use the following examples to construct a “subject” search:
  • [Town or County name] – Genealogy
Examples:
  • Springfield (ill.) –Genealogy
  • Sangamon County (ill.) – Biography
  • Auburn (ill.) –History

Directories

Directories include business, church, city, county, agricultural, congressional, school, and social directories. 
Use the following example to construct a search:
  • [name of city] – Directories

Example:

  • Pekin (ill.) --Directories

Census

The ALPL holds a number of census reports in print. Most of these are located in the reference section of the Steve Neal Reading Room. The databases of Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest provide searchable federal, state, international census reports.
Use the following example to construct a search:
  • [name of county] – Census, [census year]
Example:
  • Jasper County (ill.) – Census, 1850

Periodicals

Use the following examples to construct a search of magazines and journals:
  • [name of city, county, state, or country] – [History or Genealogy] –Periodicals
  • [ethnic group] – [History or Genealogy] – Periodicals
Examples:
  • Perry County (ill.) –History – Periodicals
  • Chicago (ill.) – Genealogy – Periodicals
  • African Americans– Genealogy -- Periodicals

Maps and Gazetteers

Construct a search of the library’s collection of loose maps, historical atlases, and gazetteers (dictionary of place names) using the following example:
  • [name of city, county, state, or country] – Maps
  • [name of city, county,
    state, or country] – Description and Travel – Maps
Examples:
  • Illinois -- Maps
  • Virginia –Description and Travel -- Maps

Church Resources

Church resources may include registers of births, baptisms, marriages, deaths, and burials.  Construct a search using the following example:
  • [name of place] – Church history
  • [name of denomination]
  • [name of Church
    (name of town, state abbreviation)]
Examples:
  • Edwardsville (ill.) – Church history
  • Disciples of Christ
  • St. James Church (Irwin, ill.) 

Military Resources

The Cutter Expansive Classification system uses a specially worded phrase to identify each war. The use of the specific Cutter term will guarantee better search results than if the generic one is used. For instance, use the Cutter subject “World War, 1939-1945” instead of “World War II.” The following Cutter subject terms for specific wars are:
  • Revolution, 1776–1783
  • War of 1812
  • Black Hawk War, 1832
  • Mexican War, 1846–1848
  • Civil War, 1861–1865
  • Spanish-American War, 1898
  • World War, 1914–1918
  • World War, 1939–1945
  • Korean War, 1950–1953
  • Vietnam War, 1961–1975

Use the following examples to construct a search:
  • United States – History – [name of war]
  • United States. Army – [unit designation, number]
  • [name of state] – Militia
  • [name of state] – History – [name of war]

Examples:

  • United States – History – World War, 1939–1945 
  • United  States. Army – Illinois Infantry Regiment, 49th
  • Missouri – Militia 
  • Virginia – History – Revolution, 1776–1783

Military Pensions

Military pension applications and records, which were created to prove eligibility for a government pension, may contain such items as birth, death, or marriage records; pages from family Bibles, family letters, witness statements, and discharge papers. 
Use the following example to construct a search:
  • Pensions, Military – [name of state]

Examples:

  • Pensions, Military –Illinois

Cemetery Resources

Gravestones usually include birth and death dates. Some may include military service, family relationship, or cause of death. 
Use the following example to construct a search:
  • [name of city, county, or state] – Genealogy
  • [name of cemetery]
  • Cemeteries – [name of city, county, or state]
  • Inscriptions – [name of city, county, or state]

Examples:

  • Jasper County (ill.) –Genealogy
  • Oak Ridge Cemetery
  • Cemeteries –Monmouth (ill.)
  • Inscriptions– Carroll County (ill.)

Ethnic Resources

General information on ethnic groups may provide context for individual genealogical research.
  • [ethnic group] – Genealogy
  • [ethnic group] – [state of residence] – Genealogy

Examples:

  • German Americans – Genealogy
  • African Americans – Illinois – Genealogy

Naturalization Resources

These will often contain country of birth or allegiance, application date, and signature, and perhaps the date and port of arrival.
  • Naturalization Records – [state] – [county]
  • [name of city, county, or state] – Genealogy
Use the following example to construct a search:
           
Examples:
  • Records – Illinois -- Knox County
  • Knoxville (ill.) -- Genealogy

Passenger Resources

Passenger lists may contain residence, age, sex, and other information.
Use the following example to construct a search:

  • Example:  Ships – Passenger Lists