Tag Archives: online catalogs

Research in the Equality State: Online Resources

Every state is going to have a similar list of resources available online, so you can take what I share here and search for something similar in another state your are researching in. Most states will have a state archive and/or library. There may be a statewide digitizing project. You might find several universities that have archival collections. (In the case of Wyoming, there is only one, the University of Wyoming in Laramie.) There may be specialized museums around the state that have archival and research collections. And when I say “online,” I mean they have a web presence which may only be a catalog and you might need to contact them for copies or to find a research proxy.

These are some of the important collections of online resources in Wyoming:

  • Wyoming State Archives, located in Cheyenne, their online collection contains some county records, newspapers, maps, photos, and so much more.
  • American Heritage Center, located at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, their online collection consists of research guides and catalogs of their manuscript and rare book collection.
  • Wyoming State Historical Society‘s website is full of historical facts about the state including an encyclopedia, oral histories, field trip information, a blog, special topics, and more.
  • State or county-level genealogical societies are generally available. Wyoming does not have a state society, but there are several local societies such as the Cheyenne Genealogical & Historical Society.
  • Local public libraries often have a local history section, such as the Albany County Public Library in Laramie.

There are a lot of ho-to and link websites that we use everyday and are useful for finding Wyoming information such as:

This is the end of my series on Wyoming, for now. I did a webinar for Legacy Family Tree Webinars (subscription required to watch) on this topic back in 2019. So if you’d like to hear more details, you might head over there and give it a watch (this is an affiliate link).

Next week we will start something new. “See” you then!

Research in the Equality State: Online Card Catalogs

If you haven’t used the card catalog feature on a few of the main genealogical sites we all might use every day, let me take this moment in Wyoming research to demonstrate it. Main of the big genealogy sites have this feature but I have found that over the years, not many know about it or use it. I’ll show both Ancestry and FamilySearch’s card catalogs today, but be on the lookout for a similar feature on other sites.

At Ancestry, you can find the Card Catalog under the Search Tab:

Ancestry’s Card Catalog

Once your in the card catalog, you can filter your results by using the options on the left. For this example, I have filtered by “USA” and “Wyoming:

You can further filter by the county, record category etc. This will help you see more quickly databases, record sets, and sources that Ancestry has for Wyoming specifically.

Similarly, at FamilySearch, you can also search the “Catalog.” From the home screen, it can be found under the Search tab:

FamilySearch’s Catalog

From this screen, you will see options to search by Place, Surnames, Titles, Author, Subject, and Keywords. Most of the time, I find I use the Place search.

FamilySearch’s Catalog

You can start your search broadly by typing in “Wyoming”:

FamilySearch’s Catalog

From there you can see all of the options that are at the state level, or you can click on “Places within United States, Wyoming” and see a list of counties:

FamilySearch’s Catalog – Wyoming
FamilySearch’s Catalog – Wyoming Counties List

Once you’ve picked a county, you can see what records they have for Albany County land records:

FamilySearch – Albany County Land Records in the Catalog

From there, it is almost like the “old days” of scrolling through microfilm, except you are at home. (Of course, there are some digitized films that must be looked at while at a Family History Center or Affiliate library due to contract restrictions.)

FamilySearch Catalog Entry for Deeds
FamilySearch Deed Index for Albany County

So, if I want to look up any deeds for Susan Baily, I can start “scrolling” or clicking and find the B entries in this index and then find the deed.

Using the card catalog allows me to be more thorough and intentional with my research. If you are just using the global search function from the front page of any of these large genealogical sites, you are probably missing a lot of records. Give the card catalog a look.

Preparing for a Research Trip – Accessing Online Catalogs

Inside the Hancock County Courthouse research room. Photo by Cari A. Taplin
Inside the Hancock County Courthouse research room. Photo by Cari A. Taplin

Before you embark on any research trip, it is wise to give yourself the time to comb through the repositories’ online catalogs and finding aids. Almost every library, archive and courthouse is going to have some kind of information online to help you plan your trip. My favorite thing to do (and the task which I usually short change myself on) is looking at online catalogs and creating a list of what I want to look at when I get there.

Salt Lake City’s Family History Library is a great example of an online catalog that is informative, easy to access and simple to plan from. If you have thought out your research goals and have a plan, then accessing the catalog and creating a “to do” list is the final step (well, before packing and filling up the car). It is like drawing a map for your visit in the library. We only have so much time before we have to leave any research trip so getting the most out of your time is essential.

There are several ways to collect the data and create the list of records, books, or micro-materials you want to access. Back in the “old days,” and by “old days” I mean before smart phones, tablets and even the wide-spread use of laptops, I used to access the catalog, print the page containing the description of the item, write on the blank space of the page or on the back who or what I was hoping to find in the record, and then would store it in a 3-ring binder. Each page was in a sheet protector and when I printed the corresponding records, they would be slipped into the sheet protector along with the catalog page. This ensured I had all of the data I need to create a source citation later.

Now, the microfilm readers have thumb drives. I can copy and store the catalog materials in Evernote. I can take photographs of the pages (even microfilm projections) with my smartphone directly into Evernote. I can sit next to the film reader with my MacBook Air (tiny, lightweight) and take notes in a spreadsheet or on Evernote. There are a million different ways to do this. Use whatever works best for you and your process.

Before you leave on your trip, but once you’ve identified what repositories you’re visiting, get online and see what online resources they have. Google is excellent at this. Just search for their catalog. One small local library I often visit is the Wood County District Public Library in Bowling Green, Ohio. Their online catalog is very helpful, allowing researchers to know ahead of time what they have in their collection. Their catalog is connected to a larger database, so if they don’t have what you are looking for you can search surrounding area libraries and see if they have the item nearby. WCDPL also has an excellent collection of newspapers on microfilm which are what I usually access when I go.

While I’m in Bowling Green, there are a few other repositories and locations I like to visit:

You can see from the above list that there is plenty to do in that one town. If I widen my range I also like to visit:

Findlay, Ohio

Perrysburg, Ohio

  • Way Public Library
  • Fort Meigs Cemetery
  • Zoar Lutheran Church (though a large portion of their records have been moved to Way PL)

These towns are within about a 45 mile range from each other, stretching north/south on the I-75 corridor in NW Ohio. There are countless cemeteries and historical attractions in between. By accessing data online before I go, I can create a plan that makes the most of my time there. When you are planning a trip, widen your range and figure out what you can reasonably visit and research with your allotted amount of time.

Set your research goals, create a map, plan your time, make a “to do” list by accessing online catalogs, take notes in your research log about what you’ve found, and have fun!