Genealogy - An Introduction to the Newberry Library's Holdings


As one of the nation’s leading institutions for researching family history, the Newberry's collections contain extensive materials relating to genealogy, including published genealogies, local histories, biographies, court and vital records, directories, censuses, newspapers, periodicals, maps, church records, military records, land records, cemetery records, and passenger lists. The Newberry’s geographic genealogy strengths encompass the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and western Europe. Collections range from the fifteenth-century to the early twenty-first century.  

This guide is intended as an introduction to the genealogy collections of the Newberry. The Newberry’s genealogy holdings are covered in further detail on our Genealogy and Local History Core Collections Page and Genealogy Collection Guides and Research Tools

Use the sections below to explore.  Please call the reference desk at (312) 255-3506 with questions on our holdings, or Contact A Librarian with research questions. 

Searching the Catalog 

Catalog search strategies vary by source type and are described at Catalog Search Strategies for Genealogists.

Reference Sources 

The Newberry holds hundreds of reference guides covering all aspects of genealogy research, locatable via catalog search strategies, including: 

Methodological guides - e.g., How to Locate Anyone Who Has Ever Been in the Military 

Geographical guides - e.g., Genealogical Handbook of German Research 

Ethnic guides -  e.g., Acadians in Exile 

Source-type guides - e.g., American Passenger Arrival Records 

Key general genealogy reference guides include: 

Greenwood, Val D. Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy. 4th ed. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 2017.  Call number: Local History Ref CS47 .G73 2017  

Simpson, Jack. Basics of Genealogy Reference: A Librarian’s Guide. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2008. Call number: Local History Ref Z711.6.G46 S56 2008 

Szucs, Loretto Dennis & Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, eds. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. 3rd Ed. Provo, UT: Ancestry, c2006. Call Number: Local History Ref CS49 .S65 2006


The Newberry holds hundreds of local and family history journals from a numerous genealogy and historical societies from all parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and western Europe.  Among the most prominent: 

American Genealogist. 1937-present. Call number: Local History Ref F104.N6 A6 

Mayflower Families Through Five Generations. 1975-present. Call number: Local History Ref F63 .M48 1975 

National Genealogical Society Quarterly. 1912-present. Call number: Local History Ref CS42 .N4 

New England Historical and Genealogical Register. 1847-present. Call number: Local History Ref F1 .N56 

New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. 1870-present. Call number: Local History Ref F116 .N28

Publications about the Newberry Library Local and Family History Collections 

Simpson, Jack and Matt Rutherford. A Bibliography of African American Family History at the Newberry Library. Chicago: Newberry Library, c2005. Call number: Local History Ref E185.96 .T44 2005b 

Sinko, Peggy Tuck. Guide to Local and Family History at the Newberry Library. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, c1987. Call number: Local History Ref CS16 .S56 1987 

Thackery, David T. “Back to Adam”: A Survey of Genealogy in the Western World, as Illustrated in the Collections of the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois: An Exhibition Catalogue. Chicago: Newberry Library, c1992. Call number: CS7 .T43 1992a 

Highlights from the Newberry Library Collections 

Individual works 

Almanac de Gotha. Gotha & London: various. 1767-1944. Seminal reference guide to the immediate ancestry of the royal and noble houses of Europe. Call number: Case 2A 43 

Ferris, Mary Walton. Dawes-Gates Ancestral Lines. Chicago, 1943. Stellar example of a pedigree genealogy, exemplifying the highest standards of proof, documentation, and presentation. Call number: folio E7 .D3171 

Lippincott, Charles. A Genealogical Tree of the Lippincott Family. Cinnaminson, New Jersey, 1880. Stunningly detailed representation using a tree as a symbol for family structure. Call number: E 7 .L675 

Memoirs of Capt. Roger Clap. Boston: B. Green, 1731. Contains the first published genealogy in North America. Call number: VAULT Ayer 150.5 .N4 C5 1731 

Peter, of Poitiers. Compendium Historiae in Genealogia Christi. France, ca. 1200. Earliest genealogy in the Newberry Library. Seven foot scroll detailing the genealogy of Christ. Call number: VAULT folio Case MS 22.1 

Related Research Guides 

City Directories 

Civil War 

Local Histories 

Noble and Royal Lineages 

Pullman Employee Records

Manuscript Collections 

Family Research Files 

Modern Manuscripts Family Papers 

Digital Resources 

The Newberry subscribes to numerous electronic resources that benefit genealogists. The following are subscription databases; access is available to registered readers only within the library building: 

American Ancestors: New England Historic Genealogical Society resources. The largest collection of family history records on the web. 

Fold3: Genealogy database that contains records drawn from the National Archives and other sources. Includes a selection of military records, court records, city directories, and letters. With over 25,000 books, the entire US Federal Census, PERSI, selected Revolutionary War records, and Freedman’s Bank records, is one of the largest collections of online genealogy materials. 

The following digital collections are also useful to genealogists: 

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries 


Chicago Genealogist

German-American Birth and Baptismal Certificates, 1700-1900

Collections at Other Institutions 

The Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City is the largest genealogical library in the world. The Newberry is an FHL affiliate, which allows Newberry readers enhanced access to content on the FHL’s website,