Where to look for rare genealogy materials – This article is intended to be a guide to locating rare materials from two different web site sources, which you may not have considered as helpful in the past. While attending the OGS conference in April of 2006, Flora L. VerStraten received a class outline based on locating rare manuscripts and materials from two online sources. She would like to share a little of what she learned about those two sources that were presented by Amy Johnson Crow, CG.(Permission granted to post this article given.)

OCLC Worldcat - the Online Computer Library Center, is a library cooperative representing thousands of libraries around the world. It includes a bibliographic database of OCLC member libraries and is the largest such database in the world. It contains over 62 million records that describe books, magazines, electronic media, and other items owned by libraries. Users can access WorldCat through OCLC’s FirstSearch program, which is available for use in most public libraries throughout the United States. Some libraries will allow their cardholders to access it from home via the Internet.

There are basic searches and advanced searches available which gives more options. Clicking on a title gives you the full catalog entry. There is a “Libraries Worldwide link” that will allow you to see where the material can be found. Consider conducting various searches such as: locations, organizations, surnames, and special topics (immigration, military, ethic groups, cemeteries, etc.). These searches will lead you to books, maps and various other  materials.

Accessing Open WorldCat through Google or Yahoo – You can enter your search terms as you would any other Google search at http://books.google.com.

  1. Find it in the library (which gives users the ability to enter a zip code and receive a list of libraries in the area with the book).

  2. Google toolbar can be configured to show book info when you click on a book’s ISBN.

  3. On the toolbar, click on AutoLink drop down arrow. Select WorldCat as the ISBN (book) information provider.

  4. Click on the library and get the catalog information so you can find it at that library.

Note – Not all books are included in Open WorldCat. Many archival and genealogy materials and books do not have ISBNs. This source is useful but be aware of the limitations.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)

     This collection is similar to WorldCat inso- much as it provides bibliographic database of many different archives (currently over 700 thousand entries). The Library of Congress sponsors this web site. The main difference between the two is NUCMC lists only manuscripts – those materials that have never been published. In many cases these can be one-of-a-kind sources in nature. Their subject matter does not necessarily tie them to a related facility.

     This site is available at – www.loc.gov/coll/nucmc. There are three different ways to search the RLG Union Catalog. Easy search (word list) will look for the search terms in order of name, title, and subject fields, as well as Advanced and Boolean searches. Like WorldCat, searching for materials under surnames, locations, organizations, etc can be performed.

      Each search has a link to more on this record. Clicking on it gives you the full catalog entry, including the location of the material. Some records are brief, while others go on for a page or more.

  • Google Book Search – Not So Easy to Find the Library Link - http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6290431.html
  • OCLC Open WorldCat Program online at -  http://www.oclc.org/worldcat/open/default.htm
  • Good overview of NUCMC - http://www.ancestry.com/learn/library/article.aspx?article=2979