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ILS 504 – 01 Reference and Information Resources and Services

Term Project: Genealogy Research pathfinder.

December 1, 2008


Type of Library:  Public Library servicing a population of 34,243 according to the 2000 census.

Mode of Instruction:  Print and Online tutorial.

Genealogy for Beginners!

Welcome to a fascinating adventure to search for your family’s roots! The Trumbull Library System prepared this research guide to help you navigate the genealogic print and electronic resources in the Trumbull Library. We included ideas on organizing your findings as well as tips to search and evaluate information and links to other resources not available within The Trumbull Library System.

I         Getting Started

II       Organizing Your Research

III      Search Methods


IV      Research Resources

V      Resource Evaluation

VI      Document Your Sources


VII      Next Steps


I         Getting Started

The path to a successful search begins with gathering what you already know. Start with yourself and work back through your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. to create a simple family tree with this information.

1.      Collect items from relatives such as stories, birth, marriage and death certificates, dates, locations, and family bibles.

2.      Review the information to determine your research goal. Will it be one branch of your family tree? Both branches? Where does your family’s story need stronger evidence?

3.      Think about keywords or phrases that are unique to your family’s search, including dates, and write them down.

Now let’s begin!

II       Organizing Your Research

There are a number of popular genealogy organization systems, including binders, notebooks, files, etc., but there is no individual system that is "best" or "correct." We all think and behave differently, so ultimately the most important consideration in setting up your filing system is that it must fit your personal style.

Some things to keep in mind as you make your list of requirements; do you want to: create wall-sized family trees, include photos, audio and video, use software to create a family Web page, work with a basic program that can store names, dates and events or write a book with the information you enter? One of Trumbull Library’s online databases we will discuss later, Heritage Quest, offers many easy to use organizational templates. In addition, the Internet has many fee based and free genealogy software download sites such as Brother’s Keeper®. The best organization system is the one that you will always use. Once you get started, you'll probably find that a combination of storage methods works. (Back to the top)

III    Search Methods

There are many print and electronic resources within the Trumbull Library System that will provide a good basis for your genealogic search. In order to check out material or to access Trumbull Library’s Online Reference Resources, you will need a library card. Trumbull Library cards are issued to Trumbull residents. Simply print the Online Library Card Registration Form, complete, and bring to the library, along with a verification of address (i.e., driver’s license, mail, etc.). Your new library card will be processed in minutes. Out-of-town residents: please bring your up-to-date library card, and we will enter your information into our system.

How to Search The Trumbull Library System’s Catalog

You may search the on-line catalog from home or in the library. It is often a good idea to begin a search using keywords, those unique words or phrases you determined at the beginning of your search. Trumbull Library’s catalog allows three search methods: Basic, Keyword, or Power.

Š        Basic search allows you to use your own terminology and search these words in the title, source, and body of the text of each record. Take note of the subject headings being used within the records most relevant to your topic and add these terms to your existing list of keywords for future use.

Š        Keyword searching is much more specific and searches only the subject heading fields of the records. Subject headings are based on keywords, or a controlled vocabulary, that is often unique to a particular catalog or database.

Š        Power search lets you search by multiple author, title, and subject keywords, and then refine your search by choosing one or more of these operators: Or, And, Not, or Xor (exclusive "or", meaning one term or the other only). Power search also lets you define limits and lets you sort your search results by specific criteria.

For more search tips and tricks, read the Help Menu provided on each page.

IV    Research Resources

Here is a selection of Trumbull Library’s Reference Resources to help you begin your family history research. Reference books are denoted by the letter ‘R’ in front and must remain in the library. Most genealogy books are cataloged under the call number 929.1. There are more additional resources within the library. Ask a reference librarian for assistance with selecting the appropriate print or electronic resources if you have any questions.

Print Resources

City directories

Trumbull Library has many, but not all, of the city directories for Bridgeport and the surrounding towns (including Trumbull) from 1954 to present. City directories can locate families with a similar name that are potentially living relatives who may be able to provide information to your family’s story. You can locate this information at R 917.469 PRI in the “Reference Storage” area.

Microfilm / microfiche

Trumbull Library has the “Trumbull Times” on microfilm from 1959 through 1982 and “The New York Times” on microfiche from 1984 through December 2007. These will provide information on life events if a relative lived in either municipality.

Reference books

R 929.1 ADO Collins tracing your family history by Anthony Adolph. London: Collins, 2004.

Discusses the fundamentals involved in this research e.g., talking to living relatives, collecting family photographs, and lists various web sites, libraries, archives, and publications available to contemporary researchers. There are two sections that discuss mostly British records.

R 929.1 MOO The librarian's genealogy notebook: a guide to resources by Dahrl Elizabeth

Moore. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998. This book provides the most concise and useful information on where to begin your search for genealogical records.

Non-Fiction books

929.1 COL They came in ships: a guide to finding your immigrant ancestor's arrival record

by John Philip Colletta Orem, Utah: Ancestry, c2002. This book has passenger arrival information prior to 1820 as well as years not included in National Archives indexes.

929.1 HIN Locating lost family members & friends by Kathleen W. Hinckley. Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, c1999. Covers everything from vital records and social security information to phone directories and census documents, this unique research guide shows readers how and where to find the information that will lead them to the missing people of their past and present.

025.06 MOR The official guide to Ancestry.com by George G. Morgan. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Pub., 2007. This official guide takes you inside the #1 web site for family history research for an unprecedented tour. Explore obscure databases you didn't know existed. (Back to the top)

Electronic Resources

Trumbull Library subscribes to several online databases some of which may ask you to enter your 14-digit library barcode. You can access them by going to the Research link at the top of the library’s Home Page. You can select Telephone Directories to locate current information, Government & Legal Resources for U.S. Government sites such as vital records (birth, death, and marriage certificates are kept by the U.S. State where the event on the record took place) or U.S. Census records (information on individuals and the households in which they were living), and lastly History, Biography, & Genealogy to access the following online databases.

Ancestry.Com Library Edition. Use this genealogy and family history database to search for census records, birth and death records, marriage records, passenger lists and more. This database can only be used while in the library. Please enter a username and password or click help for assistance.

Heritage Quest. Search U.S. federal censuses, family and local histories, and primary-source documents such as tax lists, city directories, and probate records. Materials date back to the 1700s.research beginning with Heritage Quest. Input your Trumbull library card number to access through iCONN.org portal.

Free Internet Links You Might Want to Try

When searching these selected sites or other genealogical databases or sites on the Internet, use the most relevant keywords you collected during your search. Every Web site or search engine like Yahoo! or Google provides a Help or Tips Menu with valuable information about how to perform an effective search on the specific site. Give it a try in order to make the best use of the search tool.

Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet. A categorized and cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the Internet. Established in 1996, the site is updated daily by its owner and creator, Cyndi Howells.

Ellis Island Records. Ships' registers from 1892-1924. Very helpful to research passenger records and the original manifests with passengers' names from the ships. However, the site can be confusing and cumbersome to navigate. You will need a username and password to gain access or click help for assistance.

USA.gov. Learn more about your ancestors from government records: national and state archives, the census, immigration and naturalization records, passenger ship arrivals, vital documents, land records, veterans gravesite locators, prison records, and much more. (Back to the top)

V      Resource Evaluation

If The Trumbull Library System does not have the material you seek, you may be able request it through ReQuest/iCONN, the Connecticut statewide library catalog. Interlibrary Loan Requests may be placed through the statewide library catalog. The following guidelines should be followed in requesting Interlibrary Loans:

Š        Requestors must be Trumbull residents with valid Trumbull Library cards. 

Š        Only three (3) requests per patron per week, please.

Š        Items owned by the Trumbull Library System may not be requested through the Interlibrary Loan process.

                       Electronic resources have made genealogic research more accessible and easier to use. However, not all Web sites are the same. Whether your search retrieves Web sites, blogs, message boards, discussion lists or chat rooms, look for the following clues to verify the validity of the source. First, examine the URL to see if it ends in .edu, .net, .org, or .com. Typically these denote an institution, a corporation or an individual is the author. You can find information about the author at the foot of the Home Page and in the About Us area, however analyze the Web site’s author to determine credentials, goals and bias. The Home Page can also provide the copyright date and late revised date. This will determine the currency of the information. If there are links to other sources or permission notes to use information, it is a good idea to assess those sites using the above-mentioned criteria to validate the original and source site.

                       Lastly, family oral histories can become distorted over time. Be sure to build your family history with primary sources such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and use the names and dates from those items to continue your search. Be wary of forcing the name to fit the relative.

VI    Document Your Sources

Why cite sources? Your search will amass much information. Clearly denoting where you’ve been and resources used will help you build the family tree with verifiable referenced data. In addition, if your search leads to conflicting information, you will be able to retrace your steps to determine which may have been the correct path your family’s history took. This is especially important if your goal is to share your findings with your family via the web or a book. Your distant relatives may search the Internet using their keywords. They will want to know your diligence and hard work provides solid roots to the family tree. These online sources are good starting points to help you document all research results, from print, electronic, and primary resources like interviews with family members: MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2008. The current edition can be found in Trumbull Library’s catalog at 808.027 MLA or online, The OWL at Purdue, University of California at Berkeley Library Web site, or NoodleTools. (Back to the top)

VII Next Steps

Once you have explored Trumbull Library System’s resources and are ready to expand your search, here are some places to look at next.

Trumbull Historical Society -Trumbull, CT. Maintains a research library of land records, written and oral histories, and archives.

Bridgeport Public Library – Genealogy Center – Historical Collections. Located on the third floor of the Burroughs-Saden Library, this is one of the largest repositories for genealogy research in the Bridgeport, Connecticut area. The department holds hundreds of items of interest to genealogists in a variety of formats.

Stratford Library Association – Genealogy & History.  This public library owns many volumes of the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Town Vital Records. The Town Clerk's office and the Stratford Historical Society both own the Barbour Index, citation of which is usually acceptable proof that a record exists. The Stratford Town Clerk's office has Stratford's vital records 1639-present.

Connecticut State Library - History and Genealogy, Hartford, Connecticut. An extensive collection of materials on the history of Connecticut and its people, including military, cemetery, probate, land, and vital records; church and bible records; passenger lists and naturalization records; town histories and family genealogies; newspapers and city directories; photographs; biographical and vertical files; subject guides and selected bibliographies; and much more.

Godfrey Memorial Library, Middletown, Connecticut. This library has approximately 200,000 books and periodicals in its collection including: state and local histories, international resources, family histories, biographies, records by religious organizations, church records, funeral records, cemetery records, military records, maps, etc. In addition, it houses the American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI), the largest and most important genealogical reference set ever published containing approximately 4 million names.

Join a genealogy society, club or association and Have fun!!

There are many organizations devoted to all aspects of genealogy research from statewide genealogical societies to special interest groups devoted to one family or ethnic group and membership could provide one or more of the following:

Š        Organizational newsletters and publications

Š        Workshops, seminars, and conferences

Š        Discounts on books and other genealogy research tools such as CD’s and software,

Š        Exchange of your research with other genealogist with similar interests

Š        Volunteer opportunities to teach others in family history research

Š        Permission to research records, e.g., vital records offices in Connecticut

Connecticut Ancestry Society, Inc.
 Founded in 1954 it is the oldest genealogical society in Connecticut publishes a quarterly journal, conducts workshops, and provides membership benefits.

Connecticut Society of Genealogists. This non-profit organization promotes genealogical research and publication, attempts to maintain and elevate genealogical standards, and to provide instructional and educational programs and publications. Membership benefits. (Back to the top)


The Trumbull Library System

Printable Library Card Registration Form
Simply print out this form, fill out and bring to the library, along with a verification of address (i.e., driver’s license, mail, etc.). Your new library card will be processed in minutes.
(Out-of-town residents: please bring your up-to-date library card, and we will enter your information into our system.)


Please print:                                               Date__________________


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Email address, if any

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Best number to reach you? (Please circle) Home /Work/Cell


Home address (if different from above)
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I agree to obey the rules and regulations of the Trumbull Library System, and to be responsible for all charges incurred for any overdue, lost or damaged materials. In the event that my card is lost or stolen, I understand that I am responsible for charges on and until the date I notify the library of the loss or theft of my card.


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YA – Young Adult (Ages 14-18)

CHD – Child
ELD - Elderly
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TMP – Temporary Resident


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ILS 504 ~ Core Competencies ~ Courses ~ Reflections ~ Resume ~ Contact Me