Skip to Main Content

Genealogy Research Guide

This guide is intended to assist genealogists in knowing what resources are available in the ISU Library and through the Internet. It also includes some information on genealogy resources at Ames Public Library and the Iowa Genealogical Society Library.

Genealogy Books!

In the late 1800's, there was a national effort to document U.S. county histories, including brief biographical sketches of prominent families. These histories can be located using the Quick Search box on the library homepage. The most effective search is to use Advanced Search and change "Any Field" to "Title" and then search for:

"history" AND "[fill in county name here] County" AND "Biographical Sketches"

In addition, the ISU Library owns many Iowa county histories or maps which contain genealogical information. The most effective search is to use Advanced Search and change "Any Field" to "Subject" and then search for:

"[fill in county name here] County" AND iowa AND history

These collections offer the ability to view the entire book at one time (not recommended due to file sizes and length of time it will take) or to search/view individual pages.

Using the ISU Quick Search is an excellent way to view or locate information about genealogy in our library. To do this, use the box to the left. Since keyword searching using just the word genealogy will yield over 500 records, researchers will want to combine some other keywords with that term. For example, genealogy and records, or genealogy and kentucky, or genealogy and poland could be used.

Both novice and veteran researchers may also find it worthwhile to simply browse certain areas of the ISU Library. Depending on the needs or interests of the researcher, browsing the stacks may serve as a valuable overview of available resources. Physically browsing the stacks often results in the discovery of that one book or source the researcher has always hoped to run across, or, unaware of its existence, never thought to search for in the Library Catalog. Here are some suggested call number areas that may prove helpful:

E 76.2, E 98, E 184, and E 185 - These call numbers include sourcebooks for ethnic Americans. Generally,E 76.2 and the E 98's are sourcebooks pertaining to Native Americans; the E 184's pertain to European Americans, Arab Americans, Latinos, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans; and the E 185's for African Americans. These sourcebooks are statistical handbooks and guides to sources and records which may be of interest to researchers, not books about genealogy or how to perform genealogical research.

CD 921-4280 - This call number range includes guides to various types of record and manuscript collections found in archives, government agencies, church, secular, and other, mostly public, depositories. Books here are primarily guides to collections, not books on genealogy. Due to the increasing popularity of genealogical research however, some books here do give advice on that subject. This range includes guides to federal and state records such as: war, veterans, pension, census, and vital records. An example is CD 1043 .C69x, Tracing Your Ancestors in the Public Record Office.

CS - Call numbers beginning with CS are assigned to books about genealogy, including genealogical records, sources, and research. The primary difference between books in the CD's and those in the CS's is the CD's pertain to specific agencies, depositories and collections, while the CS's focus on types of records and sources; immigration records for example. In addition, the CS's include books on how to proceed with genealogical research. Some treat the subject of genealogy broadly while others pertain to specific states, regions, countries, last names, etc. Many good examples in the CS call number range are included on the General Guides tab.

F 621 - contains books on the history of Iowa as a whole.
F 627 - houses books on the history of various Iowa counties.

Open WorldCat is like a library catalog for 28,000 libraries all rolled into one. After you search Open WorldCat, and pull up a record for something you want to locate, scroll down the page to see the list of libraries that own the item. You can type in your zip code to reorder the libraries so that the libraries nearest your location are listed first.

Your Librarian

Profile Photo
Lorrie Pellack
Head, Research & Instruction Services Dept.
150c Parks Library
Ames, IA 50011-2140
Phone: 515-294-5569