Dictionaries & Encyclopedias

Collection Information

Tracing your family history is a continuous learning experience. In order to find our ancestors, we must learn about many record types—why they were kept, what they contain, and where to find them. We learn history, geography, legal, medical and antiquated terms; and possibly even a foreign language or two. We learn about libraries, archives, courthouses, online resources, and anyplace that may house the slightest clue to our ancestry. Fortunately, the information age has been good to family historians. Collections like those in this category bring a huge variety of reference materials to our computer screen.

Dictionaries and encyclopedias can contain the history and meanings of surnames and historical details and statistics for some locations.

In some cases you may even find dictionaries that list biographical sketches of people from a particular location.

Search Tips

  • Because these records are so diverse, they are best searched on an individual basis. Use the Card Catalog to determine which collections best search your needs and then search them directly using the search form on that page.
  • These records can be searched by name. If you are looking for more generic information on a particular surname, leave the given name field blank.
  • Search for place names alone to locate collections that reference the place where your ancestor lived.