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Using WorldCat for Genealogy: Thinking Outside the Chart. Presented by Callie B. McGinnis Dean of Libraries Columbus State University Columbus, Georgia. Presentation Outline. I. What is WorldCat? II. What are the basic uses of WorldCat for genealogy?

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Using worldcat for genealogy thinking outside the chart l.jpg

Using WorldCat for Genealogy:Thinking Outside the Chart

Presented by

Callie B. McGinnis

Dean of Libraries

Columbus State University

Columbus, Georgia


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Presentation Outline

I. What is WorldCat?

II. What are the basic uses of WorldCat for genealogy?

III. Using WorldCat for family history

  • Promoting WorldCat

    VI. Barriers to WorldCat’s usage in genealogical/family history research


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First steps:

Understand what WorldCat is

Envision all the ways it can be used for genealogical research


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WorldCAT:a database containing65+ million bibliographic records contributed by over 9,000 libraries


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Bibliographic records for:Books Periodicals (including newspapers) AV materials Archival manuscripts Internet sites


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Typically,what kinds of WorldCat items would a genealogist search for?


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Genealogists are looking for facts: names, dates, places relationships

John Brown, b. 1667, Barbados, d. 1714, Maryland; m. Ann Smith, b. 1673, Maryland, d. 1727, Maryland; m. 1693, Maryland.

Children: John, 1695-1743; Robert, 1698-1625; Ann, 1700-1762.


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Family histories relationships


County histories l.jpg
County histories relationships


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Extracted county records: relationshipsVital records


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Extracted county records: relationshipsProbate records


Extracted county records land records l.jpg
Extracted county records: relationshipsLand records


Extracted county records census records l.jpg
Extracted county records: relationshipsCensus records


Extracted county records church records l.jpg
Extracted county records: relationshipsChurch records


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Extracted county records: relationshipsCemetery records


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Newspapers relationships


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Bound newspapers relationships



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Genealogical journals relationships



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If it’s a book – relationshipstry to borrow it via ILL


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If it’s a newspaper – relationshipstry to borrow the microfilm


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If it’s a journal – relationshipstry to contact the society that publishes it to see if an index is available; then request photocopies of relevant articles via ILL


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Things relationshipsto consider in locating a copy of the item

Try to borrow the item from a library that is not located near the locale treated in the publication

Consider visiting the nearest library that owns the item if you cannot borrow it

Consider trying to purchase the item


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Kicking it up a notch: relationships Going beyond genealogy

  • Expand your vision to family history

  • The final product in genealogy is a pedigree chart

  • The final product in family history is narrative


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A family history includes information that “fleshes out” the pedigree chart

The basic effort in family history is to put your ancestor in context


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Research for family history is comparable to research for any other type of history—it involves an in-depth literature search



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The church your ancestor attended: topics in your family history


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His involvement in historic events: topics in your family history


His occupation l.jpg
His occupation: topics in your family history


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His creative endeavors: topics in your family history


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Letters, diaries or other ms. items: topics in your family history


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There are many other possibilities… topics in your family history


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Once you value WorldCat, topics in your family historyhow can you promote it?

  • Emphasize its value for family history

  • Explain its usage in genealogy classes that you teach

  • Show it to patrons in one-on-one situations

  • Make it more accessible


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Barriers Related to Using WorldCat for Genealogical Research topics in your family history

The “culture of now” and the misconception that everything is on the web

Aversion to traditional research methodology

Complicated Interlibrary Loan processes and fees

Reference librarians who avoid “genies”


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Final Words of Wisdom topics in your family history

  • To enhance the value of WorldCat for genealogists, promote the concept of “family history” (i.e., placing your family in context)

  • For the family historian who utilizes basic research methodology, WorldCat will be an essential tool—just as it is for scholars in academic disciplines


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