Family/Surname Sources at Clayton Library
Most of Clayton Library’s research materials are cataloged and shelved according to their geographic area of coverage (states/counties, countries/regions, etc.) but a sizable portion of the collection is cataloged and shelved by the surname or family name that the material covers. Some of these materials are in book format, some are in microprint format, and some are online. The following is a summary of various “family/surname sources” available at Clayton Library:
Family Histories in Books
The second floor at Clayton Library holds the collection of compiled family histories. Unlike the books on the first floor, which are arranged alphabetically by state and county, these books are arranged alphabetically by the primary surname that the book pertains to. For example, the book “The Jacob Smith Family of Amherst County, Virginia” has the call number S662 SMITH FAM, which indicates that it is shelved with the family histories on the second floor under the surname “Smith,” rather than with the Virginia books on the first floor. To find all family histories on the Smith surname, visit the HPL Online Catalog at https://halan.sdp.sirsi.net/client/hou and using the advanced search type the phrase “Smith Family” in the “This exact phrase” search box, and limit the search results to Library "Clayton Library for Genealogical Research - Houston Public Library.” You will get a list of titles and their call numbers. Most of the titles will be filed under Smith on the shelf, but not all of them. If Smith is not the primary surname that the book pertains to, but rather a secondary surname, then the book will be filed under the primary surname, which will be shown in the book’s call number.
Family Histories on Microprint
Clayton Library has thousands of family histories on microfilm, microfiche, and microcard in the Microprint Department on the second floor of the main building. Many of the microfilms are from the collection of the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City, but not all. The majority of the family history microfilms are located in cabinet 60, drawers 9, 10, and 11. The majority of the family histories on microfiche and microcard are located in fiche cabinet 1 drawers 1 and 10 respectively. To search for family histories on microprint for a specific surname, visit Clayton Library’s online Microprint Database at http://www2.houstonlibrary.org/cgi-bin/clayton/microprint.pl . In the search box titled “FAMILY” (near the bottom of the screen), enter the surname you are researching (“Smith”, for example) and click “Submit Query.” You will get a listing of all family histories on microprint pertaining to the Smith surname. By clicking on the title of the item in the search results list, you will get description of the microprint item owned by Clayton Library including the microprint format it is on and the cabinet and drawer location it is in. Please print this page of the item description and bring it to the Library with you, so that a staff member can help you find the specific microprint item when you visit the library.
Family Histories in HeritageQuest Online
Within the HPL genealogy database “HeritageQuest Online,” you will also find thousands of family histories in digital format. HeritageQuest Online is available in-library, but is also available to remote users (who can access the database from home, for example), as long as the remote user has a valid HPL library card (referred to as a PowerCard). To access HeritageQuest Online, visit http://www.houstonlibrary.org, select the “Research” tab, then select the “Genealogy” link, and then select “HeritageQuest Online.” If you are accessing the database remotely, you will be prompted for your library card number and PIN. If you do not know your PIN, visit any branch of the Houston Public library and the staff can retrieve it for you from our new library catalog system. After entering this information and entering the database, click on “Search Books,” then click “People,” enter the title of the book (or the particular surname you are researching) in the “Person Names” box, and click “Search” (adding a first name in addition to a last name may give you better search results). You can also go directly to the HPL Geneakogy Research page at http://www.houstonlibrary.org/genealogy and click HeritageQuest Online.
Clayton Library has hundreds of periodicals/journals pertaining to specific surnames, which are typically published by family associations or are self-published. The second floor has a revolving carousel that contains the most recent issues of each of the family periodicals that Clayton Library receives on a regular basis. To find out what periodicals might exist for the surnames you are researching, and to find out what volumes and issues we own, visit Clayton Library’s online Periodicals Database at http://www2.houstonlibrary.org/cgi-bin/clayton/periodicals.pl . In the search box titled “Family Name” (near the bottom of the screen), enter the surname you are researching (“Smith” for example) and click “Submit Query.” You will get a listing of all periodical titles available at the library pertaining to that surname. By clicking on the name of the periodical in the search results list, you will get the actual volume and issue numbers (and dates of coverage) owned by the library. Bound copies of family name periodicals are filed on the shelf along with the regular family history books covering the same surname.
Family Vertical Files
Family vertical files are file folders containing miscellaneous loose papers sorted alphabetically by the primary surname that the paper pertains to. On the second floor you will find a series of filing cabinets, arranged alphabetically by surname, which contain these family vertical files. You can open the specific drawer which contains the file folder for the surname of interest to you, pull the folder, and then look through the papers in the folder to see if there is anything of use to you. At the far end of the row of these filing cabinets is a subset of the family vertical files called the Family Bible Records. These bible records are copies of the family pages (typically showing birth, marriage, and death dates) from family bibles that had been donated to the library in the past. To assist you in using the Family Vertical Files and the Family Bible Records, there are two notebooks on top of the filing cabinets, one titled “Vertical File Materials - Families” and the other titled “Bible Records in the Vertical Files”. These notebooks show which surnames are represented in these two collections.
“Family Maps” Series of Books (by author Gregory Boyd)
Clayton Library has a collection of over 500 books by the author Gregory Boyd containing township/range maps for various counties in 21 states. These detailed maps show the location of land patents obtained by individual families. They also show the relationship of these families/land patents to other families/land patents in the same township and county. The following states currently have family map books as part of this series: AL, AR, CO, FL, IL, IN, IA, LA, MI, MN, MS, MO, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, SD, UT, WA, and WI. To find out what counties are represented from these states, use the HPL Online Catalog at https://halan.sdp.sirsi.net/client/hou and enter the search “family maps and boyd and alabama” (or whatever state you are researching) and you will get a listing of family map books available at Clayton Library for all the counties of that particular state. These books provide simple step-by-step instructions for how to use them, and there are indexes available to help you quickly find the pages containing the surnames of interest to you.
Clayton Library Reference Staff