Saturday, January 26, 2008

NGS Book Collection at St. Louis County Library

A question was asked on the Association of Professional Genealogists mailing list about the status of the 20,000 book volumes that previously comprised the collection at the National Genealogical Society library in Virginia. Several years ago, the collection was donated, in total, to the St. Louis County Library (SLCL) in Missouri.

The books are now part of the SLCL collection and the catalog may be accessed at In order to see only the NGS collection, you will have to input the Keywords [national genealogical society] in the search box. Using only those keywords, you get 19,921 entries. If you then add a location or a surname, or both, you can see if the NGS collection has books of interest to you.

Strangely, I found that if you input the Keywords [nat* genealogi" so*] with the * as a wild card, you get 20,056 matches. I played around a bit more and found:

* 16 more books with the Keywords [nat* geneo* soc*];
* 19,960 matches with [nation* geneal* soc*]
* but only 637 matches with [nat* gen* soc*].

Hmm, something wrong with their search engine? Obviously, their spell checker didn't work when they entered the collection for a few entries.

Then I read the directions at the bottom of the page, and saw that the * wild card is for up to 5 characters, and to use ** for an open-ended wild card symbol. With that, I got 20,326 matches with [nat** gen** soc**]. That explains everything - as always - RTFM!!

But then I entered [nat** gen** so**] and got 20,893 matches. Hmmm. Are they all from the NGS collection, or are there books with the word "social" or some other "so**" word instead of "society?"?

Of course, if you just enter the surname and the word "family" e.g. [seaver family], you get what is in the whole SLCL collection, including the NGS collection entries.

Alas, I didn't find any new Seaver, Carringer, Auble, Bresee, Rau, Hildreth, Kemp, and other ancestral surname entries.

You can request an Inter-Library Loan (ILL) for some of the books at the SLCL. There are notations on each entry whether the book is Reference, in a Closed Collection, or in an Open Collection. My guess is that you can request anything from the Open Collection via ILL at your local library.

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