Posted in Archives and Libraries, Friday Finds, Library of Congress, National atlases, Railroad maps, Research tips, Websites

Friday Finds: Library of Congress resources for genealogists

Library of CongressToday heralds a new feature on “On Granny’s Trail” — Friday Finds. This will be a weekly post about a library or archive I have found especially useful in Western States research, and a few of their collections or website features I am sure you won’t want to miss! Isn’t this exciting?  Yes, I am making fun of myself.  I really do find libraries and archives exciting, and I’m sure you will too once you know of the thrilling things they have hiding there (or have in plain view on their websites.)

Today’s inaugural post features the colossal, prodigious, brobdingnagian, Titanic (having fun with and giving a little nod to history) literal Mother-of-All Libraries—the Library of Congress.  Their website can be found at or just by Googling “loc”.

By the way, for links to many other excellent archives and libraries just mouse over “Archives and Libraries” in the menu at the top of the blog, then click on any of the states in the drop-down list.

Last night I gave a presentation to the Monterey County (California) Genealogical Society  and here are a few of the things they learned to do on the LOC website:

1.  Search the vast holdings for a book, manuscript, or microfilm about a person or place at and then submit a request for Inter-library loan (ILL) at your public or university library.  They only lend things not available elsewhere, but either way you may be in luck once your librarian is on the prowl.

2.  See which newspapers existed and have been microfilmed in a given locality by clicking and then order them through ILL.  Better yet, find digitized newspapers at and search them by keyword.

3. On the homepage click on American Memory or go to and click on Immigration, American Expansion for a variety of links to first-person narratives for western pioneers, along with maps and photographs.

4.  Check out the amazing map collections, including the Railroad Maps Collection 1828-1900, Civil War Maps, Indian Land Cessions 1784-1894, Panoramic Maps 1847-1929, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps checklist, early National Atlases, and oh, so many more.  Just click on

5.  Looking for a picture of an old church or courthouse, or need a photo of life in a certain locality or era?  Search the photographic collection and print or download images at

6.  Are you the custodian of your ancestor’s military records, photos, letters, and journals?  Learn how to contribute them to the Veterans History Project to have them preserved and made available to other researchers at

These are just a few of the gems available on the Library of Congress website.  Once you venture into their collections this site may become one of your favorites for more than just Western States research.  Happy Trails!



I am an Accredited Genealogist® professional living in California. I have been researching and teaching since 1988.

7 thoughts on “Friday Finds: Library of Congress resources for genealogists

  1. Dayna, everything here looks interesting! I’m also “out west” and not far from you, so I look forward to following your future posts. Glad to have found you via GeneaBloggers!

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