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Genealogy How-To
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Family Finder
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* Finding previous research with biographies

If your ancestors had a biography written about them, it can be a great place to find interesting information about the family. While most people's ancestors didn't have entire biographies written about them, you can often find a short biography of an individual in a compiled biography. Compiled biographies often contain information about people in a specific organization, geographical area, or occupation.

To find a biography about one or more of your ancestors, you need to spend some time at a few libraries. Probably the best libraries in which to search are genealogy and public libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. In addition, you may want to check in larger libraries, such as state or university libraries in the area where your ancestors lived. If you are unable to go to those libraries in person, find out if they are part of an interlibrary loan system.

The Library of Congress and the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints both have extensive collections of published biographies. You can check the Family History Library catalog through your local Family History Center, and the Library of Congress staff will perform searches for books about a particular surname. Neither the Family History Library nor the Library of Congress lends bound books through the mail. However, many Family History Library books are on microfilm, and you can borrow those. Otherwise, you need to locate the book elsewhere or make a visit to the library. For information about libraries with a national focus, see the topic Libraries with a national focus, including LDS.

You may want to use an index to biographies to help you locate a biography about your ancestors. One such index is the Biography and Genealogy Master Index put out by Gale Research Inc., available at larger libraries in volumes and on CD-ROM disks. The libraries in which you conduct your research may have other additional indexes to biographies.

There are two other places to check for biographies. Try genealogy lending libraries -- these are companies that have book catalogs and will lend books through the mail for a fee. The addresses for three such libraries are listed below. If you have a modem, you can also search selected library catalogs through the Internet. For example, part of the Library of Congress catalog is accessible via modem.

Genealogy Lending Libraries

American Genealogy Lending Library
P.O. Box 329
Bountiful, UT 84011-0329

Telephone: (801) 298-5358

National Genealogy Society
4527 17th Street North
Arlington, VA 22207-2399

Telephone: (703) 525-0050

New England Historical and Genealogical Society
101 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116

Telephone: (617) 536-5740

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