After searching through all the well-known and not so well known databases only to hit a brick wall, we often overlook some very useful resources.

With a lot of family history research done online it’s easy to forget about the other resources like books, genealogy magazines, periodicals and gazetteers that are often great sources of information.

Sometimes you wind up visiting one of the Family History centers, which are terrific, but there’s another resource available online.

The provides access to the Brigham Young Family History Archives, which is a large collection of scanned genealogical books including:

  • Family histories
  • County and local histories
  • How-to books on genealogy
  • Periodicals, including some international periodicals
  • Medieval books, including histories and pedigrees
  • Gazetteers
  • Specialized collections

For people like me who have difficulty locating the collection on the site, click on the link to access the entire Brigham Young University Family History Archive (BYU) collection.

“The books come from the collections of the FamilySearch Family History Library, the Allen County Public Library, the Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, the Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center, the BYU Harold B. Lee Library, the BYU Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Church History Library.” You can view the files with Adobe Reader.

If you can’t find what you need in the BYU archive, I’ve found some amazing information in the  Google Books collection at and the Google ebookstore.

You can also search the catalogs of thousands of libraries worldwide on WorldCat. Even if your local library does not have a copy of the item that you want, your library might be able to order it through an interlibrary loan program. If you have the publication information from the catalogue you might be able to purchase the item through a bookseller or online auction.


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4 Comments on Rare books an often overlooked source for family history researchers

  1. A. Pickering says:

    Yeah. The FamilySearch site is a challenge in some areas, but it will get better. Thanks for this post.

  2. Ilsa Z. says:

    This is a great post. I’ve already been successful with Google Books Collection and WorldCat is new to me.

  3. Joe K says:

    Make sure that the book you need isn’t available at Google eBookstore for free before you go out and purchase one at a premium. I did this and am kicking myself. The book was actually a scanned copy with poor quality graphics.

  4. Alice Sneary says:

    There’s also a WorldCat for genealogists informational site available with search tips and more, at

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