Genealogy Research,  How To

Use ArchiveGrid To Find Old Documents & Family Records

ArchiveGrid is a power online finding aid genealogy researchers do not want to overlook! (And it’s FREE!)

As an online finding aid, ArchiveGrid accesses over 1000 institutions and 5+million of archival records including personal papers, family records, old documents and original manuscripts. They have listings for across the US and internationally as well.

Now, imagine your ancestors hiding away in a small repository’s records you never even knew existed. I, for one, do not want to miss out on finding important genealogical clues lcoated in areas I never thought to look. I know you do not either.

How To Use ArchiveGrid For Genealogy Research

Once you learn the steps to searching on ArchiveGrid, take some time and just explore. Play around with different types of searches and using the different filters until you are comfortable with the search process. Let’s get started.

Go to the ArchiveGrid homepage. 

You will first notice the map.  You can use this map to find archives that are located in the area where your ancestors lived. Move around the map and explore the red pins in your area of research or click on the state you are researhing in the drop down below the map.

Don't miss finding clues to your ancestors! Learn how to use ArchiveGrid to find old documents and personal family records.

By clicking on the state  – in this case, North Carolina – a listing of all repositories in the state  on ArchiveGrid appears. Easily click through and start exploring.  For example, click on the “East Carolina University – Joyner Library” repository.

Wondering if you have searched everywhere for your ancestor's records? Explore the free finding aid ArchiveGrid to find where your ancestor's records might be .

The pop-up on the map shows the location of the repository is Greenville, North Carolina.  Click on “Search the Collections”. You will be taken to the first page of results for that repository. In this example, we find a variety of military records listed on the first page.  (This repository has over 3400 listings on Arvhivegrid on a variety of topics.)

Wondering if you have searched everywhere for your ancestor's records? Explore the free finding aid ArchiveGrid to find where your ancestor's records might be .

To learn more about a listing, click “Read More”. You will find a more detailed description of the record collection. Be sure and check out the Related Resources toward the bottom of the listing. You can find links to more information on the collection through the repository’s own website or possibly links to digitized records.

Wondering if you have searched everywhere for your ancestor's records? Explore the free finding aid ArchiveGrid to find where your ancestor's records might be .

Search ArchiveGrid by Surname

Genealogy researchers often wish for those elusive personal papers or diaries that will provide valuable clues on our ancestors. Often researchers assume those types of records do not exist because none have been handed down in the family – at least their side of the family. This is a dangerous assumption and can lead to missing important records needed for our research.

Search ArchiveGrid by typing the  surname into the search box in the upper right hand corner to see what personal papers may have survived and been archived. 

In this example, I am searching for collections of the Talbot family.

Wondering if you have searched everywhere for your ancestor's records? Explore the free finding aid ArchiveGrid to find where your ancestor's records might be .

Here are the results.  Notice we are viewing under the “Summary View” tab.  This view allows the user to filter the results further. 

The surname “Talbot” yielded 4200+ results which is too many to scroll through. By filtering down under a category of interest, we can dramatically reduce the number of results we need to scroll through.

 

ArchiveGrid Genealogy Surname search

Under the People Category, I selected “Talbot family” to keep my result options open.  I could just as easily click on an individual’s name if that was who I was searching for. 69 results are much easier to scroll through.

ArchiveGrid Genealogy Surname Search

Family papers, family correspondence and family albums!  It’s enough to make a genealogist’s heart beat faster!

As above, to learn more about any of these collections, we need to click the “Read More” button.

Do not limit your search for records on a specific surname to a particular location. Remember, ancestors  and/or the collateral ancestral lines migrated. A collateral line may have migrated out west, but continued correspondence with relatives back east. These letters potentially could have ended up in a repository close to where they settled in the west.

Wondering if you have searched everywhere for your ancestor's records? Explore the free finding aid ArchiveGrid to find where your ancestor's records might be . #genealogy #ancestors #archivegrid

Things To Remember When Using ArchiveGrid

ArchiveGrid is a finding aid and many of the record collections are not online.  You will not find digitized records, but rather listings for records that are in a repository.  Contact the repository itself to find out the best way for you to access a specific collection.

ArchiveGrid is continuing to be updated all the time. If you do not find what you are looking for, mark your research plan to check again in a few months. 

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One Comment

  • Barbara McGeachy

    Great tips, Lisa! I will use ArchiveGrid before heading up to Boone to do research at the Appalachian Collection at ASU.

    I just went to ArchiveGrid and found ASU – Belk Library right away. Then I went to the Summary page and was able to sort Places by Name.
    I quickly found NC – Wilkes County and they have 6 collections that mention this county. One collection is for John Thomas Shepherd who was my 4th cousin twice removed. As a revenuer, he no doubt encountered many of my moonshiner relatives.

    I’m so excited to go to Boone!

    Thanks for sharing these tips!

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