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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 US: Occupational Records  by Beverly Rice, CG. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)

 What is the NUCMC Program?  [1]

Library of Congress Website, National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection, section on Frequently Asked Questions.

The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC) is a free-of-charge cooperative cataloging program operated by the Library of Congress. On the basis of cataloging data supplied by eligible repositories, NUCMC catalogers created MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging); bibliographic records in the RLG (Research Libraries Group) database, a national-level database; that describes collections held by participants, and establish pertinent name and subject authority headings. Descriptions and locations of the material are then available to researchers throughout the United States and around the world.

The NUCMC Team uses information or data on archival and manuscript collections held by repositories and prepares a catalog record using the MARC format in the RLG database. The team does not arrange and describe or write finding aids for the collections nor do they advise on the arrangement process.

NUCMC is an index to unpublished manuscripts held at over 1500 American private, public and academic repositories. An unpublished manuscript is a document ranging from personal letters to business records. Families and businesses in the local areas of the specific repository often donated these manuscripts. This index is continually updated and expanded.

NUCMC is not all-inclusive. Even when a repository is represented it may not be a complete listing of that repository’s collection. Whether the repository did not give a complete listing at the original survey request or did not update the catalog as their collection increased, NUCMC is not a complete index or the only source for unpublished documents.

Do not confuse NUCMC with the NUC or National Union Catalog, which contains cataloging information on published material.

Read the online search help before moving ahead with the search. As with all online catalogs it is the ability to accurately use the search capabilities that will give you the best possible results.

NUCMC catalog can be accessed in printed form:

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Washington DC. Library of Congress 1962 to present (multi-volume).

Other valuable indexes for NUCMC:

Index to Personal Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections 1959-1984. Alexandria, Virginia. Chadwyck-Healey, 1987.
Index to Subjects and Corporate Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections 1959-1984. Alexandria, Virginia. Chadwyck-Healey, 1994.

The following terms that will appear on the Library of Congress site. The acronyms are very prevalent on this site. Do not just pass them over. Locate the definition and use the full title when reading the:

Research Libraries Group
Archival and manuscript collection
Online Catalog Library of Congress
National Union Catalog which contained cataloging information on published material
National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections

  • State Archives and Library
  • Academic/University Library
  • Public Library
  • Historical Society Library
  • Genealogical Society Library

These different repositories are grouped together because each facility will be unique and will require a special learning curve. Many of the records in these facilities are not microfilmed and must be researched on site or by a hired professional researcher, (refer to the [ Association of Professional Genealogists] website to hire a researcher in a specific locality). When the records are microfilmed the possibility of using the interlibrary loan program with your own public library might exist.

When we live remotely and away from major research facilities we rely on microfilm, Internet, and interlibrary loan to keep our travel to a minimum. When records and books have restricted availability, the researcher must remember that these records and books are one of a kind, or require special handling. When a book or record is loaned away from a facility it invites loss of the record for future use (this is the harsh reality of life).

State Archives maintains records that are related to their specific state. When the records overlap more than one state or territory then the location of the record possibilities increase. It will be necessary for a researcher to pick a beginning point and eliminate archives until the records are located or the state archives are eliminated as a source. Many of the states provide a website for access to a catalog of their holdings.

In the case of Historical or Genealogical Societies, if loaning is allowed, it is often to members only. An exception to this rule is the National Genealogy Society. Their collection is housed at the St. Louis Public Library and is available as an interlibrary loan through a public library.

Directory of Archives and Manuscript Repositories in the United States. (Phoenix, Arizona. Oryx Press, 1988).
Subject Collections:
A Guide to Special Book Collections and Subject Emphasis as Reported by University, College, Public and Special Libraries and Museums in the United States and Canada. 7th edition. (Providence, New Jersey. R.R. Bowker Company 1993).

The Online Computer Library Center is an excellent source for garnering the widest range of resources on a specific subject. This resource is usually available through a subscription site, that usually will include a university or library. The site is not available to the general public directly.


  1. Library of Congress Website, National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection, section on Frequently Asked Questions.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course US: Occupational Records 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

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.