United States, Overview of Manuscript Collections (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2013. It is an excerpt from their course Research: African American Ancestors  by Michael Hait, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Nearly every state archives, university library, or historical society has a manuscript collection, consisting of those records that do not easily fall into other categories. Most of these collections consist of old personal or business papers, and could contain diaries, account books, original probate or land records, old newspaper clippings, and many more different kinds of records.

You should always be sure to check nearby repositories. Most manuscript collections are now listed on the repository’s website, and many including finding aids that list details about each item in the collection. As the Internet itself continues to expand, you will also begin to see more special collections brought entirely online.

To search through many major manuscript collection catalogs at once, visit the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, maintained by the Library of Congress.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: African American Ancestors offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at wiki@genealogicalstudies.com

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.