Are you interested in learning more about your ancestors? This subject guide contains a small list of the materials available at the Library that will help to get you started tracing your family history. Additionally, this guide includes links to databases and web resources that can assist you in expanding your search.

If your family is from the South, make sure to visit the 2nd floor of the Decatur Library. There you will find a wealth of resources, some general and some specific to counties and families in Georgia and surrounding states. Most of these items can be found in the 929 dewey call number range. While there, make sure to check out our microfilm and microfiche holdings on genealogy related resources, including the Atlanta City Directory; the Marriage, Divorce, and Death Registers for Georgia; Georgia State Census; and newspapers including the DeKalb News Era, the Atlanta Constution, the Atlanta Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post.

Last updated: September 22, 2015


  • An extensive resource that includes U.S. federal census images and indexes from 1790 to 1930, the Social Security Death Index, WWI Draft Registration Cards, Federal Slave Narratives, and a strong Civil War collection. Home access is available while libraries are closed due to the crisis.

  • With coverage dating back to the late 1700s, HeritageQuest combines digital, searchable images of U.S. federal census records with digitized collections of family histories and other primary source documents. The database also includes Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files and Freedman's Bank Records.

  • Collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices from around the United States useful for genealogical research and for information on famous persons.

Catalog Links

  • Genealogy for the First Time: Research Your Family History
    by Laura Best

    Here’s everything you need to know to start researching your family ancestry. Designed to inspire and encourage anyone interested in learning about their family background, this comprehensive guide offers a basic introduction to the primary methods and sources used in genealogy work.

  • Tracing Your Family History
    by Lise Hull

    This guide will help you discover your roots and in the process enable you to learn more about yourself. The book is divided into five parts with each section identifying common problems and solutions, Quick Tips, and checklists.

  • Unpuzzling Your Past: The Best-selling Basic Guide to Genealogy
    by Emily Anne Croom

    Unpuzzling Your Past provides all the tools and information needed to jump into this great hobby by focusing on fundamental strategies for success, questions to ask, places for research, and examples of each step along the way. This guide also offers charts, illustrations, a glossary, and reproducible forms.

  • The Weekend Genealogist: Timesaving Techniques for Effective Research
    by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk

    Researching family history takes time - time that many people just don’t have. This book shows researchers how to maximize their research efficiency by saving time and utilizing what little they have in the best way possible. The author teaches how to make every minute count through step-by-step instruction and sidebars highlighting important tips and procedures.

  • The Everything Guide to Online Genealogy
    by Kimberly Powell

    Use this book to help you trace and record your family history online. Expert genealogist Kimberly Powell helps you to effectively search various websites, decipher census data and other online records, and choose the best way to share your data both on and offline.

  • The Family Tree Problem Solver
    by Marsha Hoffman Rising

    Learn to break through those research brick walls with The Family Tree Problem Solver.This book dissects researcher’s common problems in case studies with straightforward solutions.

  • The Genealogist's Question & Answer Book
    by Marcia Yannizze Melnyk

    Get answers to your genealogy questions! This book provides answers to more than 150 commonly asked genealogy questions in an easy-to-browse format. Questions are grouped according to the different resources, including census records, oral histories, and electronic resources.

  • Organizing Your Family History Search: Efficient & Effective Ways to Gather and Protect Your Genealogical Research
    by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

    Tackle the process of organizing family research, from filing to stream-lining the process as a whole, with this informative guide.

  • Avotaynu Guide to Jewish Geneaology

    A resource for both the beginning and advanced researcher. This is a reference title and must be used in the library.

  • Blacks Roots: A Beginner's Guide to Tracing the African American Family Tree
    by Tony Burroughs

    This book explains everything you need to get started tracing your family history. It also addresses circumstances faced by researchers tracing African American family history. Complete with real case histories and photographs of actual documents and records, this book is a must for African American genealogists and researchers tracing African American family history.

  • Scrapbooking Your Family History
    by Laura Best

    This volume is dedicated to techniques for preserving ancestral memories through scrapbooking. Use those vintage photos, uncovered documents, and newly-found family stories to create scrapbooked family trees and pedigree charts, and histories of family homesteads.

  • Your Guide to Cemetery Research
    by Sharon DeBartolo Carmack

    Your Guide to Cemetery Research is a comprehensive, in-depth resource that’s perfect for genealogists, researchers and historians that covers everything from cemetery and death-related terminology to clues offered by headstone art, and cemeteries’ role in our culture and history. This is a reference book which must be used in the library.

Web Links