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Where to Start - Genealogy Research

This guide provides you with a list of databases, journals, and more to support your genealogy research. 

Article Databases

Heritage Quest

Featured Resource

Heritage Quest

The following databases can be particularly useful in genealogical research.

Resources marked with an asterisk (*) require a Tarleton username and password for access from your home or off-campus.

  • *A to Z Maps: check the Antique Map Collection.
  • *Access World News: print and online-only newspapers, blogs, news. journals, broadcast transcripts and videos, 1977 and later, with both a text-based and map-based search interface. Newspapers include the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (December 1990-current) and the Austin American-Statesman (1989-current), as well as 62 other Texas sources.
  • *African American Archives: this database and the two following are part of, a subscription database often used by genealogists.
  • *Revolutionary War Archives
  • *World War II Archives
  • *Archive of Americana: includes *American Historical Newspapers ranging from 1690 to 1989, and the *U.S. Congressional Serial Set, 1817-1980.
  • *Biography and Genealogy Master Index: provide citations to other resources with biographical information.
  • *Dallas Morning News: Current (since August 1984; including indexed death notices from 12/29/02) or Historical (October 1885 through 1984).
  • Handbook of Texas Online: a free resource provide by the Texas State Historical Commission, it is especially useful for information on the history of places in Texas.
  • *Heritage Quest: available through the Texas State Library’s TexShare program, this database includes the U.S. Federal Census from 1790-1940 (with most years searchable by name), the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), Revolutionary War Pension Applications and Bounty Land Warrant Applications and Freedman's Bank Records, and over 28,000 searchable family and local histories.
  • New York Times: Current (including 2011 through the present) or *Historical (1851-2010), the latter via *ProQuest.
  • *Nexis Uni or *WestLawNext: sometimes a legal case involving a family member will provide clues in your family history.
  • *Texas Digital Sanborn Maps: available through the Texas State Library’s TexShare program, Sanborn fire insurance maps ranging from 1867 through 1970 have been digitized for 436 Texas communities, including most county seats. Sanborn maps can help document the history of land and buildings. The Texas Historical Commissionhas a guide to using Sanborn maps (start with “Finding the Location” when using the maps through Tarleton). Color versions of Sanborn Maps of Texas from 1877 through 1922 are available in the University of Texas Perry-Castañeda Map Collection Online.

If the person you are researching was associated with Tarleton State University (student, faculty, staff), also try:

  • Grassburr Yearbook Archives: via the Portal to Texas History (a free website), it currently includes yearbooks from 1970 through 2012, with earlier and more recent yearbooks to be added later.
  • J-TAC Newspaper Archive: via the Portal to Texas History, it currently includes digitized J-Tac student newspapers from the first in 1919 through 2007, with more recent years to be added later.

MORE: A to Z Database List, Guide to Databases

Selected Internet Resources

  • Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, sponsored by the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, offers a variety of digitized newspaper pages from the National Digitized Newspaper Program. Over 700,000 pages are in the database. Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1836-1922 by everything, by date, by state, by specific newspaper, etc. Or, use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.
  • is a free, public database of 613,458 (and growing) records from the historical slave trade. The records provide information for people (slave owners as well as slaves), events, places, and sources. The site is a central, online location allowing researchers to search for individual enslaved people around the globe.
  • is a free service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is the best place to start your research. The website has research guides, the catalog of the Family History Library, full-text original records, and full-text of genealogy reference books. A free FamilySearch account allows creation of family trees, uploading images, and sharing information, and is also require to view images of some original records. In addition, even if images of original records are not available at this site, it can provide information to make microfilm or textual searches easier. For example, in the Texas, Marriages, 1837-1973 collection, Erath County records often have the volume and/or page number in the Reference ID field.
  • Find A Grave features user-contributed material (think Wikipedia for cemeteries), so keep in mind it may not be accurate. It has over 142 million entries (as of July 2017) from cemeteries all over the world, often including headstone photos, personal descriptions, photos and obituaries, GPS coordinates, and links to other relatives. It can be searched by cemetery name and by surname. The TCU Library has some directions and tips on searching individual grave records. The option “browse by US county” is available from the Cemetery Search page.
  • Portal to Texas History has digital materials from collections throughout the state. A number of college yearbooks (such as Tarleton’s Grassburr) and Texas newspapers from smaller towns or universities (such as our J-Tac) have been digitized, and if you search on a surname (adding a location if the surname is common), you may find obituaries, marriage notices, photos, and other articles about your ancestor.
  • Stephenville Newspaper Collection on the Portal to Texas History includes, besides the J-TAC, available issues through 1922 of the Stephenville Empire, the Stephenville Tribune, the Stephenville Empire-Tribune, and the Central Texas Journal. The latter papers were added to the Portal through a collaboration between Tarleton State University and the Stephenville Public Library with a grant from the Ladd & Katherine Hancher Library Foundation.
  • Texas Archival Resources Online (TARO) makes descriptions of the archival, manuscript, and museum collections in repositories across the state available to the public. The site consists of the collection descriptions or "finding aids" that archives libraries, and museums create to assist users in locating information in their collections. Consider these an extended table of contents which describe unique materials only available at the individual repositories. Keep in mind that in most cases, the collections themselves are NOT available online.
  • Texas General Land Office (GLO) archives include maps and information on Spanish, Mexican, bounty, donation, and headright land grants in Texas. There is an online land grants database and a surname index to land grants as well. GLO is in the process of digitizing the original documents and many of them can be viewed online.
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission has a number of resources for genealogical research, including military records, land records, and Republic of Texas records.

Books and Periodicals

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  • [CS] — Genealogy

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