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Genealogical Research: Finding Books


To find books and government documents in USA Libraries' collections, use SOUTHcat: USA Libraries' Catalog.

  • Catalog tips and tricks:

    • Keyword searches – use quotation marks to hold phrases together ("passenger lists")

    • Truncation – use ? after the root of a word to find all its variants (genealog? finds genealogy, genealogical ...)

    • Browse the Subject(s) field in records to find the right words for searches. (Example: Try doing a keyword search for "military service records," then look at the subject(s) field in several records. You’ll see that the subject term is "United States--Armed Forces--Records and correspondence." Click the subject heading to find more records with this subject.)

  • Revise and refine your searches.

  • Watch for repeating call numbers and browse stacks in that area.

  • Pay attention to the Location and Status fields. You will need this information to locate the item in the library.


Sample search terms:

  Subject Heading Browse:

  • Genealogy
  • Genealogical literature
  • African American families
  • Freedmen
  • Slave narratives
  • Mobile (Ala.)--Genealogy
  • Alabama--Genealogy
  • United States--Genealogy
  • Emigration and immigration
  • Land grants
  • Obituaries
  • Registers of births, etc.
  • Ships--Passenger lists 



  • "records and correspondence"
  • "archival resources"
  • Immigra?
  • Registers

For additional help, see the introductory guide Basic Guide to SOUTHcat 

Government Documents Librarian & Depository Coordinator

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Vicki Tate
Marx Library RM 222
University of South Alabama
5901 USA Dr. N.
Mobile, AL 36688