By Jill Adair
It seems only fitting that one of Arizona’s largest genealogy collections is housed in one of the state’s most historical buildings.
On the third floor of the original copper-domed Arizona State Capitol in Phoenix—now the Arizona Capitol Museum—is a state-owned collection of print books and periodicals, with many more resources easily accessed online or through CDs and microfilm.
The library collection began in the earliest days after Arizona was granted statehood in 1912, and date-stamped books still on the shelves attest to this fact.
These early books are just some of the 19,000 books available to those researching family history information, and the collection is not focused only on Arizona history.
“We have books from all 50 states,” says Chris Seggerman, research associate. “We have surname books that no one else has.”
The genealogy collection, part of the State Library of Arizona, is free to use and in addition to the books from every state, includes books from other countries on the main level. While most are for reference-use only, some are available to check out. The extensive collection includes indexes, colonial records, ship passenger lists, atlases, vital records, Daughters of the American Revolution lineage information and military records from the Colonial Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War and Indian wars.
Seggerman explains that because many of Arizona’s early residents came from New England states, along with Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and New York, some of the largest collections of states’ materials are from those areas. Most of the books have been donated to the library.
The upstairs level is filled with family books, bibliographies and journals in alphabetical order of surnames from around the country.
“We have a wide range of patrons, says Seggerman. “People come in who know nothing about family history to those looking for a certain book. We have the know-how and resources to help them.”
The collection also includes books on religious and ethnic groups, bound historical periodicals, the Barbour Collection of Connecticut Vital Records, Filby’s Passenger and Immigration List Index, and all 226 volumes of the American Genealogical-Biographical Index.
Patrons are can use one of six computers, with free access to Ancestry and HeritageQuest.
Adjacent to the Genealogy Collection is the Law and Research Library, which can provide other resources for researchers. Perhaps an ancestor was a doctor in Arizona, someone who served in the state legislature or was involved in a major court case. Information about them can be found here.
The nearby Polly Rosenbaum State Archives and History Building holds 16,000 cubic feet of records that began with the creation of the Arizona Territory in 1863. According to the website, local records include material from county and city governments; the Arizona Biographical Database contains over 100,000 entries; the Arizona Newspaper Project contains microfilm copies of more than 1,400 newspaper titles from 175 cities and towns in Arizona; and the Photograph Archives include private collections and images created by government agencies. All of these resources can be invaluable tools in family history research.
For information on the Arizona State Genealogy Collection, go online to www.azlibrary.gov, then search “genealogy.” The state also offers free copies of birth and death certificates for births that occurred at least 75 years ago and deaths that occurred at least 50 years ago; go to http://genealogy.az.gov.