Skip to Main Content Skip to content

Genealogy: Virtual Genealogy Resources

This guide provides an overview of library resources that can help with genealogy and family history searching. Please reach out to the library if you have questions or would like additional information.

Introduction to Virtual Genealogy

As you continue working on your family history, you may notice that your family moved around--sometimes frequently and long distances! In the past, genealogy enthusiasts had to travel to these records.

With some collaborative efforts and technology, genealogy has never been easier than it is today! All thanks to the efforts of heritage organizations contributing copies of their records and time. Family historians can travel across countries and oceans virtually to access these records!

How to use Ancestry's Databases

How to use FamilySearch

Newspaper Archives Online

Newspaper Archive 

An historical newspaper database which contains newspapers from all over the state of Pennsylvania. The archive’s newspapers date from 1759 to the present. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Archive 1786 – 2003 
Available to CLP cardholders only

Search the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette archives from 1786 – 2003. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Digital Microfilm 2009 – Present 
Available to CLP cardholders only

View the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in digital microfilm from January 2009 to the present with a 3-month delay. 

ProQuest Historical Newspapers: Black Newspaper Collection 

Historical Black Newspapers provides information and perspectives that were excluded or marginalized in mainstream news sources. These newspapers include articles, obituaries, photos and editorials. Newspapers available through this resource include: Pittsburgh Courier, Philadelphia Tribune, Cleveland Call & Post and others.  

Helpful Books for Virtual Genealogy

Unofficial Workbook keeps growing, but how can you find your ancestors on the huge and ever-changing site? In this workbook, an essential companion to the Unofficial Guide to , you'll learn how to use to its full advantage with detailed guides to searching's digitized records.

Unofficial Guide to

Discover your ancestry on, the world's largest free genealogy website. This fully-updated in-depth user guide shows you how to find your family in the site's databases of more than 3.5 billion names and millions of digitized historical records spanning the globe. Learn how to maximize all of's research tools--including hard-to-find features--to extend your family tree in America and the old country.

Sharing Your Family History Online

For many enthusiasts pursuing their family history research, the online world offers a seemingly endless archive of digitized materials to help us answer the questions posed by our ancestors. In addition to hosting records, however, the internet also offers a unique platform on which we can host our research and lure in prospective cousins from around the world, to help build up a larger shared ancestral story.

Genealogy Online, Tenth Edition

The most complete and current guide to successful online genealogy
Conduct effective genealogical research using the experttechniques and innovative tools in this fully updated, bestselling resource. Genealogy Online , Tenth Edition reveals new research breakthroughs, such as DNA testing, and covers the latest ancestry-related websites, blogs, networks, and social media services.


Ancestry Library Edition 

Ancestry is one of the most well-known virtual genealogy resource. It is a comprehensive source of information for conducting genealogical and local history research. Ancestry can be accessed from any library in Allegheny County.

Here is a list of what you may find on Ancestry:

Most of the 1890 census has not survived, but some secondary schedules (lists) did, and they are available on 

*Access to Library Edition is only available from a library computer or your own device while visiting any library in Allegheny County. 


Family Search 

This site is completely free to use from anywhere, and it’s a gold mine for anyone researching Allegheny County. There are so many local records here (such as Allegheny County marriage dockets, birth & death records, and deeds) that it is perhaps a better source for Pittsburgh research than Ancestry. The trick is that many of those local records are not indexed, meaning they will not show up in a general search. Instead, use the Catalog under the Search menu, then search by place to see the list of Allegheny County data sets. Once you’re in the catalog record, you can scroll through the digitized microfilm frame by frame. 

FamilySearch is also a great source for European records, so if you’ve been digging for ancestors from across the pond, you can’t skip this site. New records are added every week, so it’s also worth checking back periodically, and searching the catalog, even if you don’t find the right record today. 

While this site is free to use, you will need to create an account to access the database. 

FamilySearch offers the following Pennsylvania specific collections:

  • Select birth records for Western Pennsylvania from about 1870-1906 are available on FamilySearch, but many are not indexed, meaning records will not appear in standard search results. Users should use the Catalog search to find the records and look through the digitized records.  
  • Select death records for Western Pennsylvania from about 1870-1906 are available on FamilySearch, but many are not indexed. Users have to use the Catalog search feature to find the records and look through the digitized images. See the Birth Certificates section for the link to our YouTube video and other helpful guides created by our genealogy and local history librarians!  
  • The marriage license dockets from 1885-1905 and 1937-1950 are online on See Birth Certificates section for a link to a how-to YouTube video.  
  • County-court naturalization records before 1906 are online at They are not indexed in a publicly available way.*

*Use the Catalog Search feature to find them.

For dual citizenship applications: the library can provide a certified and notarized copy of the record. 

Genealogy Resources from CLP


US military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served, as well as access to naturalization records/indexes, city directories, historical newspapers and more. 


Ebooks and eAudio on genealogy are available for free with your library card through Libby, Hoopla or Ebsco. You may install a free app for Libby or Hoopla on your device through your app store.  A Libby search can be done directly through the app, or through our library Overdrive site Overdrive Genealogy . Hoopla also has a great selection of items  Hoopla Books on Genealogy  You may also visit our site at Eresources at CLP for help.     

Genealogy Connect 
Available to CLP cardholders only

Multiple volume searching of 1500 reference works from Genealogical Publishing & Clearfield Companies. Sources include essential “how-to” works that help to build a good family tree; colonial period works identifying early American settlers and chronicling American immigration; royal and noble ancestry; histories and source records of Native American tribes. 

Available to CLP cardholders only

A comprehensive source of information for conducting genealogical and local history research. 

Historic Pittsburgh 

Search U.S. Census Schedules for the City of Pittsburgh (1850-1880) and Allegheny City (1850-1870), view images of historic Pittsburgh maps and photographs. 

Passenger Lists from the National Archives and Records Administration 

Four series of passenger lists containing over 6 million names of immigrants from Germany, Italy, Russia and the famine years of Ireland. 

Sanborn Digital Fire Insurance Maps 1867 – 1970 – Pennsylvania 

Sanborn fire insurance maps are the most frequently consulted maps in both public and academic libraries. Sanborn maps are valuable historical tools for urban specialists, social historians, architects, geographers, genealogists, local historians, planners, environmentalists and anyone who wants to learn about the history, growth, and development of American cities, towns, and neighborhoods.