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Genealogy Sources

A guide to genealogical research with particular pointers for research on people with Oregon and/or Pacific University connections.

Genealogical & Census Records

Genealogical records are one of the most powerful tools historians have for research. They are especially useful for American history topics between the 1800s-1940s. You can use them to research genealogical details of specific people; learn about who was living in a particular community, what property they owned and how they made a living; or you can use aggregated census data to find demographical statistics. 

U.S. Genealogical Records, 1700s-1940 (includes Federal, State, and Tribal Census Records)
  • (paid database)
    How to get access for free if you are a Pacific U. student or area resident:

    1. Get a Multnomah County Library (MCL) card number online. This is free for residents/students in Portland metro area; use your campus address.
    2. Sign into your MCL account; go to their Research Tools page and select Ancestry Library Edition
    Ancestry provides excellent search functionality for all the federal census records through 1940 (except 1890 because the original records were destroyed). It also gives very good access to state and tribal census records. An enormous quantity of other biographical/genealogical records are also included in their database, such as birth/death/marriage records, phone book and business directories, immigration records, and more. For an added fee, you can access similar sources from Europe and Canada. The 1880 & 1940 censuses are provided free.
    Tips for searching Ancestry: 
  • FamilySearch
    This is a free genealogical research database maintained by the LDS Church. It has excellent data, but the search functions do not work as well as 
  • Find-A-Grave
    This very useful free database indexes (and often also includes photographs of) a large percentage of the graveyards in the United States. Often includes birth/death dates and the names of immediate family, plus obituaries when they are available. 
Current U.S. Census Data
    This free site maintained by the federal government allows you to find aggregated data about current populations in the United States. You can find out data on the national, state, county, or census tract level about all sort of topics: population count, socio-economic status, race, etc. You cannot find information about individual people due to privacy laws. 
Non-U.S. and Other Genealogical Sources