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Beginning Genealogy Resources : Digital Collections and Online Resources

This is a guide to print and online resources useful to the study of family history and genealogy. Many of these materials are available through the Government and Heritage Library.

Digital Collections - North Carolina

Alien Registration and Naturalization (State Archives of North Carolina)
Part of the North Carolina Digital Collections. Contains Alien Registration and Naturalization materials from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina. It includes volumes and other county records relating to the naturalization of foreign-born citizens in which the clerk of superior court acted as federal agent. Volumes may include Declaration of Intent to Become a Citizen, Petitions for Naturalization, and Alien Registration.

Colonial and State Records (UNC Libraries)
The Colonial and State Records are a 26-volume set of transcribed records that cover NC history beginning in 1622 and ending with the 1790 census of North Carolina. The set has been fully digitized and made searchable online through DocSouth.

Digital Library on American Slavery (University of North Carolina at Greensboro Digital Collections)
Digital resource compiling various independent online collections focused upon race and slavery in the American South. Information included on: Race and Slavery Petitions, NC Runaway Slave Advertisements, Buncombe County Slave Deeds, and New Hanover County Slave Deeds.

DigitalNC(North Carolina Digital Heritage Center)
Digital portal that provides access to original materials from libraries, museums, and archives across North Carolina. The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is a statewide digitization and digital publishing program housed in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Digital Heritage Center works with cultural heritage institutions across North Carolina to digitize and publish historic materials online. List of contributing institutions.

Documenting the American South (UNC Chapel Hill Libraries)
Documenting the American South (DocSouth) is a digital publishing initiative that provides online access to texts, images, and audio files related to southern history, literature, and culture.

North Carolina Digital Collections (State Library of North Carolina and State Archives of North Carolina)
Contains over 90,000 historic and recent photographs, state government publications, manuscripts, and other resources on topics related to North Carolina. The Collections are free and full-text searchable, and bring together content from the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina.

North Carolina Family Records Online (State Library of North Carolina and State Archives of North Carolina)
Part of the North Carolina Digital Collections it is comprised of North Carolina family history materials from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina. The searchable online collection includes North Carolina Family Bibles, indexed marriage and death announcements from five NC newspapers (1799 to1893), copies of genealogical research donated to the Government and Heritage Library and photographs of headstones and general views of the Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery and the Hebrew section of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh.

North Carolina Maps (UNC Digital Collections)
Online collection of historic North Carolina maps. Contains more than 3,000 maps, ranging in date from the late 1500s to 2000, and includes maps for each of North Carolina's one hundred counties. Featuring maps from the State Archives of North Carolina, the North Carolina Collection at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Outer Banks History Center.

UNC Digital Collections (UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries)
Digital collections focused on North Carolina and the American South. Subjects include the experience of African Americans, the Civil War, the arts, economics, and politics.

Online Resources - North Carolina

GHL Blog Government and Heritage Library<
Blog discussing the collections and services of the Government and Heritage Library, including posts on genealogy.

Government and Heritage Library's List of Databases Government and Heritage Library
List of e-journals and databases that the Government and Heritage Library subscribes to. Lists what resources are available on site as well as remotely to North Carolina residents through NC LIVE.

History for All the People State Archives of North Carolina
Blog discussing projects, upcoming news, interesting documents and news from the Archives. Post about genealogical research at the State Archives (

NCGenWeb Project
Home of a network of volunteers working to provide genealogical and historical content for each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. Part of the the USGebWeb Project.

NCpedia (Government and Heritage Library)
Online encyclopedia about North Carolina.

North Carolina Gazetteer (Government and Heritage Library)
North Carolina geographical dictionary. Content is from the North Carolina Gazetteer, edited by William S. Powell and Michael Hill. Copyright 2010 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher.

North Carolina Genealogical Society
Organization that promotes North Carolina genealogical research, standards, education, preservation of resources and more.

North Carolina Newspaper Locator (Government and Heritage Library)
Search for North Carolina newspapers by county, town, or newspaper title and date range. Database indexes newspaper microfilm housed at the Government & Heritage Library.

North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster Cumulative Index (North Carolina Office of Archives and History)
Indexed entries for all men who served in North Carolina Civil War units and are listed in the multi-volume set North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster, published by the North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Database also contains entries for all the people, places, and military units mentioned in the North Carolina Troops series.*Note: this site requires silvelight, which does not work with Firefox or Chrome or Safari. Appears to only work with Internet Explorer (IE).

Digital Collections - General

Access to Archival Databases (ADD) (National Archives - NARA)
Online access to records in a small selection of historic databases preserved permanently in NARA. Records cover a wide variety of civilian and military functions and have many genealogical, social, political, and economic research uses.

Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)
Online portal that offers a single point of access to millions of items from libraries, archives, and museums around the United States. Offers online guides on how to use DPLA and blog posts (Finding Family Information Through DPLA and Family Bible Records as Genealogical Resources).

Internet Archive
Non-profit digital library offering free universal access to books, movies & music, as well as 456 billion archived web pages. Also includes materials for genealogical research.

Online Resources - General

American Ancestors (New England Historic Genealogical Society)
Portal maintained by the NEHGS that provides access to hundreds of databases, including abstracted records, journals, books, indexes, and much more. The focus is on the New England area of the United States.

Ancestry Library Edition ( (available at the Government and Heritage Library and most libraries)
Library version of Covers the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vital, church, court, and immigration records, as well as other records from across the world. Also includes helpful Learning Center with tutorials and instructional videos.

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries (Newberry Library)
Historical county boundaries for each state or for the entire United States. Interactive maps can be viewed by date.

Bouvier Law Dictionary, 1856
Law dictionary helpful with genealogical research.

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (Library of Congress)
Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.

Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
Categorized and cross-referenced list of links for genealogical research.

Ellis Island: Passenger Search (Ellis Island Foundation)
Use Passenger Search to find people who came through Ellis Island.

Family Search (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)
The LDS Church has a tremendous amount of microfilm for all over the country. They are continually working to digitize or transcribe genealogical information and make it accessible to the public at no cost through Also includes helpful Research Process and Instruction.

Find A Grave
Database with burial and grave records.

Fold3 ( (available at the Government and Heritage Library and other libraries)
Online access to original US military records, including many from the National Archives, and nonmilitary records.

HeritageQuest Online(ProQuest) (available at the Government and Heritage Library and many libraries)
Online access to historical and genealogical primary resources including: historical census, PERSI, Revolutionary War Records, Freedman's Bank Records and more.

Local History and Genealogy Reference Services (Library of Congress)
Website of the Library of Congress' Local History and Genealogy Reference Services. Includes information on their collections, bibliographies, online orientations, and search tips.

MESDA Craftsman Database (Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts)
MESDA has an archive and library containing information about craftsmen from around the early South. The database has nearly 200,00 names with 127 trades.

NARAtions (National Archives and Records Administration)
Blog about online public access to the records held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

National Genealogical Society
Organization that leads and educates the national genealogical community and assists members in tracing family histories. Offers publications, workshops and annual conferences.

Online Public Access (National Archives and Records Administration)
Search the online catalog and other resources in the collection of the National Archives.

Resources for Genealogists (National Archives and Records Administration)
Main page for information, events, and research in genealogy and family history for the National Archives.

Soldiers and Sailors Database (National Park Service)
Database of Civil War soldiers and sailors for both the Union and Confederate sides. Information given includes, but not limited to, which side they fought on, the regiment they served in, and their rank.

Upfront with NGS (National Genealogical Society)
Blog for the National Genealogical Society. Includes society news and genealogy related articles.

USGenWeb Project
Volunteer effort providing free genealogy websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States.