Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday's Tip - Reach Out to Local University Collections

Here's a tip that may result in big finds in your family history research. If you are researching in a particular area, try the closest university library to your location of interest to see what special collections they may have. In many cases, their special collections are searchable online. And if they are not, you can send an inquiry to a research librarian to see what may be available.

I've recently received some great sources by checking online with Arizona State, the University of Arizona and West Kentucky University. I have some brick walls that I am hoping trying the university special collection route in the Cincinnati, Ohio area will help.

In one example, I'm tracking down my elusive third-great-grandmother Mary Ann Hise (or Haise), who married Samuel Oyler. I'm going to check the Special Collections with the University of Cincinnati, and also the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Ohio. I also need to check Miami of Ohio and neighboring Dearborn County, Indiana.

I'd be interested in hearing from others their own tips for getting to local special collections and newspapers when one is remote. Checking with local universities has worked well for me lately, and may for you too.


  1. I have had great luck finding items in University archives, but it has all be just that: luck. I found one through a Google search and one on a search of Worldcat.org/. In both cases I wrote the Special Collections department of the University library and they were more than willing to help me out and make copies. I have yet to contact Universities on a "cold call" basis to see if they have information on a particular ancestor. I'll have to try that.

    1. Patrick, I've been following your posts on this topic (especially when you mentioned Western KY). You are right on about branching out and applying this technique to other regions.

      I've been successful in this area when researching the western provinces of Canada--with online accessibility to some records, too, as you've mentioned. Sometimes just Googling the terms will lead to the archives. Other times, I've only found these resources thanks to the mention of someone else on a forum or other online resource.

      I've also found ways to just email the library in question (rather than "cold calls" as Heather mentioned). I often get some good direction from the reference librarian regarding parameters of collections that way--and save myself a call.

      Now, hopefully, your posts here will inspire others to find success by checking out these additional resources.

  2. My suggestion was more aimed at when you know a particular branch was living in an area and you're trying to get to information you can't normally find on Ancestry/FamilySearch or another database, try the university library for the area where the family was living. Western Kentucky had some information that I likely never would have known on a branch of my family if I hadn't checked there.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.