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Main Menu - Genealogy: A Beginner's Workshop: Class 4

Class 4 - There’s More to Life (and Family) Than the Internet

The internet is a great resource.  It is fast becoming the genealogist’s favorite accessible tool.  However, there is still an abundance of information not on the internet OR you need to learn to use the internet.  There are many other resources available beyond the internet.

For the genealogist, there are 4 major physical locations worth considering when looking for records of your ancestor.

  1. Libraries
  2. Repositories
  3. Courthouse

Other Locations including historical societies, museums, churches, and genealogical societies


Notable genealogical libraries in the United States:

  • National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC
  • Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, IN
  • National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Library, Washington, DC
  • Family History Library, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Library of Congress, Washington, DC
  • Mid-Continent Public Library, Midwest Genealogy Center, Independence, MO
  • New England Historic Genealogical Society Research Library, Boston, MA
  • New York Public Library, New York City, NY
  • Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
  • Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, WI
  • Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, OH
  • Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, Houston, TX

Scott County libraries include:

Bettendorf Public Library
Davenport Public Library
Family History Center, 4929 Wisconsin Ave, Davenport, IA
LeClaire Community Library
Scott County Library System
Blue Grass Branch
Buffalo Branch
Durant Branch
Eldridge Branch (headquarters)
Princeton Branch
Walcott Branch

The January 2020 edition of the Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society newsletter The IOWAN includes information about the Bettendorf, LeClaire, Blue Grass, Buffalo, Eldridge, Princeton, and Walcott libraries.

Regional resource libraries include:


Belgian Museum of the Quad Cities, 1608 7th Street, Moline IL

Rock Island Genealogical Society, RICIGS library is housed at the Rock Island Historical Society

Rock Island Historical Society, 822 11th Avenue Moline, IL, free to members and $5 per day for non-members

Rock Island Public Library, 401 19th Street, Rock Island, Local History Research Room is open on Thursdays from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, call 309-794-7204 for an appointment


American/Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Society, 121 W. Bryant St, Walcott, IA, open by appointment only

Burlington Public Library, 210 Court Street, Burlington, IA,

LeClaire Township Genealogical and Historical Society, call 563-289-4236

Clinton County Historical Society Museum, 601 South 1st Street, Clinton, IA

Jackson County Museum, 1212 E. Quarry Street, Maquoketa, IA

Musser Public Library, 408 E. 2nd Street, Muscatine, IA

State Historical Society of Iowa, 402 Iowa Ave., Iowa City, IA, call 319-335-3916

Types of resources at a library:

  1. Librarians

A researcher who visited a large regional library said “Most people doing genealogical research aren’t academics or scholars, so the help of experts is even more important.”  The librarians are your experts.  Librarians answer questions, answer queries, and are the best resource for information at a library.  Do not expect the librarian to do your research for you.  Do expect them to help you find the resources you are seeking.

  1. Books

Many books are available on the internet, but all books are not. Each library has different books and treats books differently.


  • Davenport Public Library has two types of book collections.  One collection of books is available for circulation, or checkout, on the main floors of the libraries.  The other book collections are kept in the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center (the Library’s special collections department) or are kept in the reference areas.  These books are non-circulating.  Non-circulating books are available for use at the library.  Copies are allowed. Ask Special Collections staff before copying materials.
  • Newberry Library in Chicago.  This library is commonly referred to as The Newberry and it is free and open to the public as Chicago’s Independent Research Library since 1887.  Most of the materials are housed in a climate-control stacks facility.  Researchers need to consult catalogs and guides to locate and request materials relevant to their research. If you find a book and want a copy of a page, you must request the staff to make the copy.

Before visiting any library, check for an online library catalog for materials contained within the collection.  Determine if the library has the book(s) you seek.

Specific type of books useful to genealogists:

City Directories

City Directories include more than just the name of your ancestor.

  • Name of ancestor and other family members
  • Women’s names do not appear until about 1900 (in this area) unless they were not married.
  • Children’s names do not appear unless they are of the age of majority.  Children may appear as “boards” (bds) at the parent’s house
  • Ancestor’s profession, employer, or other work information
  • Streets and maps
  • Churches
  • Cemeteries
  • Advertisements
  • Historical information
  • Death register (seldom).  Occasionally a date of death will be listed if it occurred during the year.
  • Cross directories by address starting in 1890 (in this area)
  • Schools, organizations, and societies

In addition to libraries, books can be found at:

    • Family History Centers
    • Hathi Trust
    • (library catalog)
    • Library of Congress
    • Genealogy Gophers
    • Google Books
    • (will review in Class 5)
    • (will review in Class 5)
    • other on-line catalogs

c.    Periodicals


They can provide:

    • obituary
    • marriage announcement
    • birth announcement
    • other activities

Check these locations of some newspapers:

Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room, Serial & Government Publications DivisionThis is part of The Library of Congress. This list includes locations of online newspapers.

Chronicling America, part of the Library of Congress. Some newspapers are online at this site.  There is also a list of the location of newspapers

Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Newspapers

A number of Iowa newspapers have been digitized and made available by Advantage Preservation.

Community History Archive

Advantage partners with communities across the United State to archive & provide practical digital access to local historical content in print that would otherwise be lost to the erosion of time.

Newspaper Archive

All Davenport Public Library branches have free access to Newspaper Archive, a searchable newspaper online resource which provides access to some of Iowa’s newspapers.

American Newspapers, 1821-1936
by Winifred Gregory Gerould
Davenport Public Library call no. SC016.071AME

Guide to Newspaper Research
by Wendy Uncapher
Bettendorf Public Library call no. 929.1 UN
not on Davenport Public Library card catalog

Journals and Magazines

Annals of Iowa
Family Tree Magazine
New England Historical & Genealogical Register
Internet Genealogy Magazine
Your Genealogy Today Magazine


Societies, organizations, and institutions share their activities and education resources.

d.   Additional Resources

There are other materials found at libraries that are typically non-circulating. The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center has maps, archive and manuscript collections, ephemera, videos, oral history recordings, photographs, and archives for the City of Davenport, Scott County, and other government materials.  Many libraries have resources in addition to books.

For example, the Scott County Library System, headquartered in Eldridge, is creating a digital collection called the Scott County Community Memory Project.  The project is to help different generations connect with their family history. 

e.   Computers

Public libraries offer the use of computers.  In addition to the card catalog, the library’s computer will have access to the internet and may have access to Ancestry Library Edition and other genealogical resource databases.  Ancestry Library Edition is available free at home with your Davenport Public Library card through December 31, 2021.  Local records and digital materials, such as city council records or photographs, may be available.

f.   Microfilm / Microfiche

Microfilm and microfiche records may include:
census reports
vital records
land records
court records
military records
city council minutes
board of supervisor minutes
church records
society meeting ledgers
school records

Family Tree Magazine definition of a repository:

A library is intended for public access to materials.

An archive preserves primary source material, with limited access to records.

A repository is a library, archive, or other places where records are stored.

A repository can be a library, historical society, genealogical society, repository, museum, archive, or special collections library.

National Archives is an example of a repository.

The State Historical Society of Iowa is another example of a repository.  It maintains a museum, two research centers, preservation office, and eight historic sites.

County and state courthouses contain records.  Some records are online, but a copy or the original document is at the courthouse.  Not all courthouses maintain the original document.  They may maintain a microfilm of the document.  Some courthouse personnel are very helpful.  Some courthouses are very restrictive.  Most states have a Freedom of Information Act, which may allow you to obtain copies of documents for a fee.  The type of records varies from courthouse to courthouse.  This may depend upon when the area became a territory or state, or the types of activities in the area.  State laws vary, so the availability of courthouse records vary.  Review the Vital Records Chart from the DPL packet to see when records were required to be kept.

Historical Societies

Historical Societies may hold records given to them or purchased by them, sometimes from the local courthouse.  They may include news articles about area residents.  They may hold genealogies or artifacts of local residents.  They usually have or have compiled, books about the area. 



A museum is defined as “a building or place where works of art, scientific specimens, or other objects of permanent value are kept and displayed.”  A museum may contain records or archives of the area, which may include references to your ancestor.  For example, the records for the R. H. Graham Post 312 of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) of Rock Island are at the Chicago History Museum.  If your ancestor was a member of this organization, the membership and meeting information is probably in the museum’s records.


Scott County Museums and Historical Societies:

American/Schleswig-Holstein Heritage Society
Bix Beiderbecke Museum and Archives (at River Music Experience and Davenport Public Library)
Buffalo Bill Museum
Buffalo Historical Society & Museum
Davenport Schools Museum
German American Heritage Center & Museum
Iowa 80 Trucking Museum
Putnam Museum and Science Center
Walcott Historical Society


Churches and Synagogues

Church records may include baptism, marriage, and funeral records.  Some records are not necessarily kept locally but are kept at a district, state, or national level.  Some records are copied and maintained at local libraries, historical societies, or museums.

Richardson-Sloane Special Collections has records from several denominations of churches in both microfilm and book format. Ancestry Library edition has posted Lutheran church records for our area.

Class Recording


View the following programs on Davenport Public Library YouTube.

Total 52:45 minutes.