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Hunter Library
Research Guides
Western Carolina University


This guide lists and describes resources that can be used for genealogical research. Use the tabs to navigate.

Handbooks and Guides

Also, look for guides and join the genealogy community. Ancestry, Family Search, and others have fabulous "how-to" guides for specific nationalities beyond the U.S. as well as just general tips. If you found people who have already researched your family history, be sure to check their sources. 

Archives and Genealogy/Historical Societies

You may find that you have to take a road trip to an archive, regional library, or local genealogy society.  Don't just drop in and give them your family name, do some homework beforehand. The more information you have in hand, the better they can help you. Here's what you need have handy:

  1. The hours of the place you are visiting!  For instance, few local historical or genealogy societies are open late in the evening.  This information will be on the institution's website, but it pays to call ahead. Let the person know you are a student working on a project that is time sensitive.  
  2. An idea of what you are looking for (e.g., the local newspapers or land records).  Check with the institution to see if they have the date ranges that you need. For example, many public libraries do not keep historical archives of the local paper because they can't afford to have them put on microfilm.
  3. As many names, dates, and places you can gather beforehand. For example, if you are looking for an obituary, you need to know when the person died.  Most local newspapers are not indexed.
  4. Cash, preferably in quarters for copying, printing, etc.  


Place Names

It's possible that the town or county has changed over time. Districts and counties in 1790 may be very different than today! Maybe a town didn't officially exist in the 1800s.

You can usually find this information online in places like Wikipedia. If not, you can find it in a gazetteer, which is a dictionary of place names. The library has gazetteers for North Carolina and the U.S.  Most states have their own gazeteer.


International Genealogy

Ancestry Library Edition focuses primarily on the United States, though new information is added regularly. If you hit a dead-end in Ancestry Library Edition, try these resources.

Consider subscribing to, which has a few extra features than the library edition, including a World Explorer edition.  A 14-day trial is available for free.