Copies of Vital Records
Most original records are housed in the county where the event occurred.
Passenger lists can tell you when an ancestor arrived in this country. Often they also include information about the person's port of origin (where they came from), and their final destination (where they intend to settle). They may also include information on ethnicity, marital status, relatives, and occupation. The bibliographies listed below will help you identify if a passenger list was created for the time period and region you are interested in.
The publications below contain information of interest to genealogists. They often contain descriptions of ongoing projects and are a good way to discover otherwise hidden resources. Browsing current issues is a good way to get a sense of what is currently being done by other researchers.
Guides to Contents of Genealogy Periodicals
The sources below will help you locate articles on particular topics or individuals within genealogical publications.
City Directories can verify that an ancestor resided in a particular location at a particular time. Besides listing people many early directories provide occupations and addresses. Directories can also be useful for tracking down institutions such as churches, schools, benevolent and city offices that may have records of interest.
In addition to the microform collections above, the library has some city directories and registers in paper. The easiest way to search for these is to use The CAT, the library's online catalog. Do a keyword search on the name of the city and directories, e.g. Altoona and directories. If you retrieve too many matches, try limiting your search by a range of years. This will eliminate more current directories.
Church records can be extremely valuable for documenting family events such as baptisms, marriages, and deaths that may have gone unrecorded in other sources. This is especially true for earlier time periods before the state assumed the role of issuing marriage licenses and birth and death certificates. Unfortunately, church records can be difficult to obtain. Often they reside in scattered denominational archives. Many denominations have merged with larger organization or changed since their founding. The first step, then is determining which denomination your ancestors were involved in, and then discovering where they may have their archival records.
The sources below can be used to obtain information about an ancestor's military service. The amount of information varies. Some merely provide verification of enlistment, others give length of duty, and rank information, while the 1890 census provides address information for Civil War Veterans surveyed.
Good Places to Start
It is not always necessary to visit the library in person in order to determine if we have what you are looking for. You can search for materials in the library's collections from anywhere in the world. Simply go to the library's home page (http://www.libraries.psu.edu), and select databases, then The CAT. The CAT is the library's online card catalog. The CAT does not contain the full-text of library materials, but it does allow you to search for what we own by author, title, or subjects.