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Special Collections and University Archives

This section of the Special Collections and Archives libguide provides general information for the prospective family historian and describes resources available at Pogue Library as well as online. Staff can help patrons physically locate resources, find items in our catalog, suggest sources, give general descriptions of resources, and provide finding aids for collections. Staff cannot conduct research for patrons. Although the library does not endorse any genealogical researchers, a list of people willing to do local searches can be provided upon request.

Getting Started with Genealogy

Begin your family history by recording information you already know. This can be accomplished through a family tree computer program or website, or simply recording the information on paper charts. Either way is acceptable if done consistently and accurately. Once you record what you already know, ask older relatives what they remember. This can be accomplished through interviews, either in person or via phone, letter, or online. In any case, ask specific questions, for example: "Do you remember when Grandma Martha Washington was born?" as opposed to “Can you tell me about the Washington family?” Once you have some details recorded in your tree, you will notice what's missing. Make a list of the information you lack, then determine what type of source might help in finding that information. For example, if you want to discover when your father was born, try looking at vital records.