Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

State Archives: Wonderful Local Sources for Genealogical Research -- Introduction

During the past year as I have been digitizing records in the Maryland State Archives, I have come to appreciate the vast resources available in these record repositories. I have decided to do a long series of posts highlighting each of the 50 state archives in the United States. I will also include those in possessions and territories where applicable. In each case, I will be detailing the records that are online and those that have yet to be digitized. I am sure that I will have to guess with some of the collections. Since I cannot think of a better way to start, I am going to proceed alphabetically. If you live in Wisconsin or Wyoming and really want to be moved up in the list, I suggest commenting and I will consider jumping around. The image above is from the Council of State Archivists and it is a Directory of all of the State Archives so even if I haven't gotten to your state yet, you can begin your own investigation. I will end up with another list of a few National Archives. This will keep me busy for a while.

There is a considerable variation in the types of items stored and available at the different Archives, but my service at the Maryland State Archives has shown me that what is there and what is available is exceptionally valuable to genealogists doing research in each state. I would suggest that despite the number of records that may be digitized, a visit to the state archives will always prove to be a valuable experience.

For most of my life, I have lived in Utah and Arizona. My ancestors from these states are well documented and I have had little incentive to do additional research in my own state archives. It was only by coming to Maryland for this extended visit that I have fully appreciated the value of these institutions.

I would like to do the same kind of survey for the various university libraries' special collections but since there are well over 2000 public and private universities in the United States, this will not likely happen. I do, however, suggest that genealogists become familiar with their local, state university libraries' special collections. You may find some very interesting and helpful documents and records. I have found several very interesting things in the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library while I have been working there.

Stay tuned for the first installment on Alabama. I am not planning on keeping a running list of links to these posts but they will all have the same name "State Archives: Wonderful Local Sources for Genealogical Research -- [state name]. You will find them with a Google search.


  1. I've read your blog for years and enjoy it very much. You always give me a new perspective.
    I am writing to request that you put Wisconsin State Archives near the top of your list. Thank you.

  2. Love your blog. I was hoping you would start with Maryland. But I look forward to all the states because I work in a state genealogical library and every bit of information helps me assist my patrons.