Locating Previous Irish Research (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Research: Irish Ancestor  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Locating Research Already Done Or In Progress

You probably know of all your first cousins i.e. those sharing common grandparents. Do you know all your 2nd cousins? What about the 3rds, 4ths and 5ths? The researcher who has progressed back as far as great grandparents is well-advised to search for those 2nd (etc.) cousins who will have details of their own lines and perhaps several more generations, and may also have the family bible, photographs and other important memorabilia. There are two kinds of searches necessary:

Published Family Histories — Research Already Done

The following British works are available at most principal libraries and in microform from your FamilySearch Center (FSC).

  • For British and English families Marshall’s Genealogist’s Guide lists pedigrees in print to 1902. This is updated to 1953 by Whitmore’s Genealogical Guide, Thomsen’s A Catalogue of British Family Histories (1976) and Barrow’s 1977 Genealogist’s Guide.
  • Ireland is well-served by MacLysaght’s Irish Families – Their Names, Arms and Origins (1985) and further titles in this series (More Irish Families, etc.) and his The Surnames of Ireland.
  • Scots should start with Stuart and Paul’s Scottish Family History 1930), and Ferguson et al. (1986) Scottish Family Histories Held in Scottish Libraries.
  • Genealogies in the Library of Congress: A Bibliography by M.J. Kaminkow. 1987. Two vols. and two supplements list 52,000 printed genealogies.
  • The FamilySearch Catalogue, Surname search is a gold mine for locating published histories. 250,000 surname entries have so far been indexed from their collection of over 75,000 printed family histories.
  • Smith's Inventory of Genealogical Sources is at the Family History Library, Salt Lake City and on fiches at your local FSC:
    England fiche 6110526 (96 fiches)
    Ireland fiche 6110527 (18 fiches)
    Scotland fiche 6110528 (18 fiches)
    Wales fiche 6110529 (14 fiches)
    These contain references to thousands of pedigrees at the FHL but not in the FamilySearch Catalog.
  • Society of Genealogists in London has a large collection of published family histories.

Locating Other Researchers — Work In Progress

  • Genealogical Research Directory by K.A. Johnson and M.R. Sainty. Annually from 1981. Lists surnames of families currently being researched, with names and addresses of searchers. You may add your names for a fee. Different submitters each year. Your local Family History Society probably has all the back issues.
  • LDS Family Registry Index. Worldwide ancestors and families being researched, on microfiche at all FSCs. Includes many One-Name studies having huge data bases. Input discontinued 1991, but 1993 edition still available
  • Genealogical and Family History Society Lists called Members Interests Directories and queries in journals. Many societies have their members’ interests online.
  • The Society of Genealogists in London has a large collection of birth briefs (pedigree charts) and lists of members interests in their journal, Genealogists Magazine.
  • PERSI – The Periodical Source Index at any Family History Center. Index of all articles in English- and French-language genealogical periodicals from 1847 to the present. The index is available on Ancestry.com A wonderful, and under-used, resource. Index for 1847-1985 is on GSU fiche 6016863 (40); that for 1986-1990 on 6016864 (15).
  • GOONS =Guild of One-Name Studies Register for those collecting all references to a certain surname, mainly British-based families. These people are keen to share information, and usually have vast data banks!
  • The Genealogical Periodical Annual Index (GPAI) published in Maryland, USA, includes 300 periodicals.
  • Those having access to the Internet will find hundreds of lists of surnames to look at and to which to submit their own names; one example is RootsWeb.

Experience shows that submitting your pedigree to large, widely-available databases pays dividends in finding cousins. Far more people look than actually get around to submitting! Recognize this and make sure they are looking at your ancestors and queries! The volume of mail generated by an article written for a FHS journal can be astounding. Even small articles are welcome, but do make sure that you put the surname in the title so that it will be picked up by indexing and search machines.

For other ideas please consult the LDS publication 35140 Sources for Previous Research in the British Isles. This covers general world sources as well as those specific to the British Isles.

The definitive work on how to use all kinds of published genealogical sources found in any kind of library is Meyerink’s huge compendium, Printed Sources. It is aimed mainly at the American market, but the advice is equally applicable anywhere. Make sure that you have access to it; if your local public library does not have a copy suggest that they get one.


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Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course Research: Irish Ancestor 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.