Finding Family Histories

Have you wondered if a history of your family has already been written?  If you have, the following resources may lead you in the right direction.  Keep in mind that family histories are only as good as the researcher and the information which was available at the time they published their work.  Use other genealogists’ research as clues, but be sure to find the evidence yourself to prove or disprove the information they provide.

If you find a resource of interest, you can check our online catalog to see if B&ECPL owns the title.  If we do not carry the title you are interested in, we may be able to borrow the item for you through Interlibrary Loan.

  • Books

Gro Ref CS47 .D38 1982 – Shelby, Mrs. Richard Denny.  DAR Library Catalog, Volume I, Family Histories and Genealogies.  Washington, D.C.: National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, 1982.

Gro CS47 .I64 1979 – Index to American Genealogies; and to Genealogical Material Contained in all Works such as Town Histories, County Histories, Local Histories, Historical Society Publications, Biographies, Historical Periodicals, and Kindred Works….  Baltimore, MD:  Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979.  [Companion Volume: Z5313 .U5 W61The American Genealogist being a Catalogue of Family Histories.   Albany, NY: Joel Munsell’s Sons, 1897].

Gro CS69 .K3 – Kaminkow, Marion J.  A Complement to Genealogies in the Library of Congress.  Baltimore, MD: Magna Carta Book Co., 1981. 

Gro Ref CS47 .N39 1998 – New England Historic Genealogical Society.  Circulating Library Catalog, Volume I, Genealogies.  Boston, MA: NEHGS, 1998.

Gro Ref CS47 .U56 1990, 3 volumes – UMI Guide to Family and Local Histories.  Ann Arbor, Michigan:  UMI, 1990. 

Gro CS47 .U6, 2 vols, 1 sup.  – Kaminkow, Marion J., ed.  Genealogies in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography.  Baltimore, MD: Magna Carta Book Company, 1972. 

Gro CS47 .Y3 1996 – Hoffman, Marian.  Genealogical & Local History Books in Print: Family History Volume.  Baltimore, MD: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1996.

  •  Databases

HeritageQuest OnlineHeritageQuest includes a collection of over 28,000 full-text family and local history books.  The date range covered is 1583-2000s.  It also includes PERSI, a selective index to genealogy and local history articles.  To learn more about HeritageQuest, see our tutorials.

Ancestry Library Edition – There are thousands of databases available in Ancestry, some of which are family histories.  Narrow your search to the Stories, Memories, and Histories Collection in order to find these materials more quickly. 

  • Miscellaneous Resources 

Grosvenor File – The Grosvenor File is a card index which will help you find family history books and articles.  To find listings for your family, look alphabetically by last name.  

Grosvenor Genealogy Collection – Published family histories are available in the Grosvenor Collection.  They are arranged roughly in alphabetical order by surname, and are recorded in our online catalog. Many of these books are also indexed in the Grosvenor File.  To browse, start at call number CS 71. 

Family History Pamphlets – The Grosvenor Room owns a collection of almost 700 family history pamphlets.  Most were published in the 19th and early 20th century. When using the pamphlet collection guide, refer to the call number section for an alphabetical list by surname.  The guide is available at the Reference Desk.  Many of these resources are indexed in the Grosvenor File. 

Family History Files – The family history vertical files contain a variety of information sources, and are available by request at the Reference Desk.  A guide to these materials is available at the Reference Desk. 

Genealogy Manuscript Collection – This is a collection of unpublished manuscripts donated to the former Grosvenor Library, by the Buffalo Genealogical Society (1899-1931) and the Niagara Frontier Genealogy Society (1941-48).  A guide to the collection is available at the Reference Desk.  See also the WNYGS microfilm ML152 for the Philbrick Family Book which covers the 1631-1925 timeframe and the following surnames: Butterfield, Wilson, Manley, Philbrick, Boyce, Holmes, and French.  An index is included.

  • Library Catalogs

WEB2: The Online Catalog of the BECPL – WEB2 is a database showing the books, magazines, CDs, videos, maps, and manuscripts owned by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.  It includes the Grosvenor Room, all departments in the Central Library, and every town and branch library.  To find sources in our collection beyond those listed in this guide, try these Subject searches:



WorldCat – This is a union library catalog which lists the holdings of thousands of libraries across the U.S. and some foreign libraries as well.  You will find resource titles and the libraries that own them.  Perform an advanced search and search the subject field as follows:



FamilySearch Library Catalog – This is the online catalog of the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.  It is the largest genealogy library in the world. Perform a surname search, by inputting a single last name in the search field.  To search for resources that cover multiple surnames, use the keyword search. 

  • Websites 

Brigham Young University Family History ArchivesFull-text family and local histories, genealogy periodicals, and gazetteers.

Haithi TrustA full-text digital library including history and genealogy books.

Internet ArchiveFull-text books including a large collection of biographical, genealogical, and local history materials.

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