From Rootsweb
Jump to: navigation, search

General References and Guides

This article is part of a series.
Introduction to the General References and Guides
Overview of Databases and Indexes
Database and Index Types
List of Specific Databases and Indexes
Library Catalogs
List of Useful Finding Aid References

This article originally appeared in "General References and Guides" by Kory L. Meyerink, MLS, AG, FUGA in The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy

Directories are important tools for genealogists because they help locate people and organizations that can assist in research. For more information on directories as research tools, see chapter 8, 'Directories.' Some of the following directories, and many more which are too specific to list here, are now available on the Internet.

Directories of Organizations, Societies, and Institutions

  • Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. County Courthouse Book. 2nd ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1995. This directory provides addresses, telephone numbers, and county organization dates for more than 3,300 county offices. A list of the records available, search fees, and other information is included for the courthouses that responded to the compiler's survey.
  • . Directory of Family Associations, 4th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2001. This directory is an A to Z directory that provides addresses, telephone numbers, contact persons, and publications (if any) for more than 5,000 family and surname organizations.
  • . Genealogist's Address Book, 5th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005. This directory provides addresses and telephone numbers for thousands of national, state, and local organizations of interest to genealogists. It includes libraries; historical, lineage, and genealogical societies; ethnic and religious organizations; publishers; booksellers; professional organizations; and periodicals. Additional information, such as hours of operation, contact persons, publications, and services is included for those organizations that responded to the compiler's survey.
  • Press, Jacques Cattell, ed. American Library Directory. New York: R. R. Bowker Co., 1908'. This annual (since 1978) directory lists thousands of academic, public, private, and special libraries in the United States and Canada.
  • Smith, Juliana Smith. The Ancestry Family Historian's Address Book: A Comprehensive List of Local, State, and Federal Agencies and Institutions and Ethnic and Genealogical Organizations. 2nd ed. Orem, Utah: Ancestry, 2003.

Subject-Specific Directories

  • Carson, Dina C. Directory of Genealogical and Historical Societies in the U.S. and Canada . This directory includes family, historical, ethnic, and genealogical societies in the same listing, arranged by state and thereunder by town. An index provides access by the name of the society.
  • Directory of Special Libraries and Information Centers. 31st ed. Detroit: Thomson-Gale, 2005. A comprehensive list of more than 21,000 libraries that have special collections and purposes.
  • Directory of Historical Organizations in the United States and Canada. 15th ed. Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 2001. A comprehensive list of approximately 14,000 organizations interested in history, including virtually all local and special interest history groups.
  • Encyclopedia of Associations. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1987'. This annual directory includes current addresses, functions, and membership requirements of fraternal, ethnic, veteran, hereditary, patriotic, and other associations.
  • Filby, P. William. Directory of American Libraries With Genealogy or Local History Collections. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, 1988. Briefly describes the genealogical collections and services of more than 1,500 public and university libraries, state archives, historical societies, and other libraries.
  • Meyer, Mary K. Directory of Genealogical Societies in the USA and Canada. 12th ed. Maryland: the compiler, 1998. This publication identifies almost all genealogical societies and describes their services and publications. It also includes a list of independent genealogical periodicals (periodicals that are not affiliated with a society).
  • National Historical Publications and Records Commission. Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States. 2nd ed. Phoenix: Oryx Press, 1988. This volume identifies hundreds of manuscript collections in a variety of repositories. It includes many references to collections for ethnic and immigrant groups.

Telephone Directories

Local telephone books have always been useful to genealogists'especially for locating living relatives. With the advent of CD-ROM technology, large databases, such as telephone lists, have been collected in a single collection. Publishers of such directories seem to change frequently, but generally local computer stores will have two or three competing products, each offering different search routines and flexibility.

However, most researchers seeking phone numbers of prospective relatives or other researchers turn to any of several Internet sites. Major search engines, such as Google and Yahoo include phone directories as part of their search services. More sophisticated searching, including reverse searches (by phone number), address searches, and other approaches, are usually available at websites specifically designed for phone directory searching. Current sites include,, and

Such databases do not come exclusively from telephone company records. They may be collected from various sources, including mailing lists, voter registrations, driver's licenses, and utility company records. Consequently, some addresses may be out of date.

Directories of Professionals and Other Researchers

Occasionally, researchers want to contact others known to be working on the same family lines or in the same area. Or, a researcher might want to engage a professional to conduct research on a lineage, topic, or locale. Generally, names of professionals become known from previous publications by them or through the recommendations of others. To find addresses and other information, several directories and indexes of genealogists are available.

The Association of Professional Genealogists publishes an online directory listing its members and, for those who contributed, providing detailed background information. It is searchable by name, geographic specialties, research specialties, related services, and member residence. It is available at the association's website.

The International Commission for the Accreditation of Professional Genealogists (ICAPGen) maintains a list of accredited genealogists who have been tested for ability in specific regions and countries. Updated regularly and listed by area of accreditation, this list is available at the commission's website.

The Board for Certification of Genealogists publishes an online list of genealogists and record searchers it has certified for competency. It is searchable by name, state and special interests. It is available through the board's website.

The Genealogical Speakers Guild offers a directory of presenters, their topics, and fees. Listings are available online.

Who's Who in Genealogy and Heraldry, 2nd ed., edited by P. William Filby and Mary K. Meyer gives much information about 1,100 genealogists chosen for their contributions to the field. Many of them are professional genealogists.

For information on genealogists who may now be deceased there are fewer sources. The best is Frederick A. Virkus's The Handbook of American Genealogy. This source includes a list of 2,341 amateur and professional genealogists, with some background information. Volume four (1943) is the most complete, but it omits some names from earlier volumes. It also includes a list of almost 11,000 genealogies in progress with the names of the researchers who were working on them, and a state and county breakdown of genealogists.


Coming soon...

External Links