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It's a Jungle Out There! Simplifying the Hunt for Government Information: Genealogy

Resources for a presentation at the Florida Library Association annual conference, May 8, 2009

Government Records of Interest to Genealogists

The Population Schedules of the U.S. Census list individual names for each household and are accessible through commercial subscriptions at many public libraries.

Items sometimes found in federal depository libraries which may be of interest to genealogists include:

U.S. Congressional Serial Set provides the names of recipients of private relief and related Congressional actions, such as petitions for remission of duties, pensions to widows, granting of relief, etc. Another important source for names, where many thousands appear that have not been indexed individually, are lists of land claimants, soldiers, impressed sailors, pensioners, voters or signers of petitions, indexed under the term "list". The DAR Annual Reports (1890+) also appear in the Serial Set.

Index of Patents (1842+) provides a list of patents registered in a particular year, arranged by subject of invention and name of patentee. From 1842-1871, claims descriptions, and illustrations are also included. Information is available at UCF in microfilm (1842-1973), paper (1927-1996) and electronic (1976+). See also the U.S. Congresional Serial Set for the Annual Reports from the Commissioner of Patents which usually included a list of patents and patentees.

Other Government Resources for Genealogists

Resources for Genealogists & Family Historians (National Archives)

American Memory (Library of Congress)

WPA Life Histories from Florida, 1936-1940 describe the informant's family education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, diet and miscellaneous observations.

Florida Folklife from the WPA Collections, 1937-1942 a multiformat ethnographic field collection documenting African-American, Arabic, Bahamian, British-American, Cuban, Greek, Italian, Minorcan, Seminole, and Slavic cultures throughout Florida.

Florida Memory Project

Availability of Census Records about Individuals (CFF-2)

Florida History Resources