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Genealogy Resources

Resources for genealogy available in our libraries.

Welcome to LibGuides - Genealogy

Genealogy has become a popular hobby in the U.S. This guide helps to point you to resources held by by the UNT Libraries and online sources related to Texas state records and general U.S. genealogy resources. While the UNT Libraries do not have a dedicated genealogy collection, there are many resources to be found within our walls and through our online sources.

The UNT Libraries recognize that many of our students, staff, and faculty do not have access to their genealogical histories. Slavery, Diaspora, colonization, and genocide violently separate individuals from their homes and family lands. Additionally, underdeveloped regions may not have the "paper trail" needed to identify ancestors. Adopted persons may also have difficulty identifying their biological ancestors. Genetic genealogy can help to fill gaps in individual histories with positive or harmful connections.

On this page find tips and answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Getting Started

Tips for Getting Started with Genealogy Research

  • Start with what you know and what you can easily learn
    Begin documenting the lineage you know and talk to relatives who can can assist with filling in gaps. Pedigree or ancestral charts provide an easy way to begin documenting and visualizing your family lineage. Here are a few pedigree/ancestral charts:
  • Document your research
  • Share your research. Genealogy benefits from researchers sharing what they learn. 

A few resources to assist with beginning genealogy research

Vital Records

FAQs about birth, death, marriage and divorce records for the state of Texas

Births

Does the UNT Library have birth records or certificates for people born in the state of Texas?

Yes. The UNT Library owns some birth records or certificates on microfilm for the counties of Cooke and Montague.

Where can I find birth records or certificates for people born in the state of Texas?

It depends on when the person was born. The state of Texas did not keep birth records before 1903 and full compliance did not occur until the 1930s. If any record exists for a person before 1903, it will most likely be at the county level. Contact the county clerk's office in the county of birth. You can find the address for every county as well as the year the county began keeping birth records in the  Ancestry's Red Book (2004). Contact information for county clerk's can also be found online at the Texas State Vital Statistics Unit. If the person was born after 1903, the record may be found at the county as well as at the state level.

Are there any indexes to Texas birth certificates?

Yes. Indexes and images from 1903-1935 and index information only through 1997 are available for free on Family Search. The index is also available on Ancestry which is publicly accessible for free at UNT Libraries. 

Are there any published works of birth information for the state of Texas?

One book the UNT Library owns is Early Texas Birth Records, 1838 - 1878

How can I purchase a birth certificate from the state of Texas?

To get a birth certificate from the State you will need to contact the Texas Department of Health and order a copy. Only close relatives may order a birth certificate from the last 75 years. Birth certificates may also be ordered at the county level. 

Deaths

Does the UNT Library have death certificates for people who died in the state of Texas?

Yes. The UNT Library owns some death records or certificates on microfilm for the counties of Cooke and Montague.

Where can I find death certificates for the state of Texas?

It depends on when the person died. The state of Texas did not keep death records before 1903 and full compliance did not occur until the 1930s. If any record exists for a person before 1903, it will most likely be at the county level. Contact the county clerk's office in the county of death. You can find the address for every county as well as the year the county began keeping death records in Ancestry's Red Book (2004). Contact information for county clerk's can also be found online at the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. If the person died after 1903, the record may be found at the county and the state level.

Are there any indexes to Texas death certificates?

Yes. Indexes and images for 1903-1986 and index only records up to 2000 are available for free from Family Search. These records are also available from Ancestry which is publicly accessible for free at UNT Libraries. 

How can I purchase a death certificate from the state of Texas?

To get a death certificate from the State you will need to contact the Texas Department of Health and order one. Only close relatives may order a death certificate from the last 25 years. Death certificates may also be ordered at the county level. 

Marriages

Do you have marriage records or certificates for people married in the state of Texas?

Yes. The UNT Library owns some marriage records or certificates on microfilm for the counties of Denton, Cooke, Montague and Wise.

Where can I find marriages records or certificates for people married in the state of Texas?

It depends on when the marriage took place. The state of Texas did not begin collecting marriage records at the state level until 1966. For marriages that occurred before 1966, you will need to check with the county clerk's office in the county where the marriage took place. You can find the address for every county as well as the year the county began keeping marriage records in Ancestry's Red Book (2004) at the library or online at the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Marriages prior to 1836 may also be in the custody of the Roman Catholic Church.

Are there any indexes to Texas marriage certificates?

Yes. A free index to marriage licenses for 1966-2011 is available for download from the Texas Department of Health. There is no comprehensive state index for marriages before 1966 as records were kept on only on the county level and in church records before then. Many county records have now been made available for free on Family Search and through Ancestry which is publicly accessible for free at UNT Libraries. For more info on marriage records before 1966 see the Family Search Wiki

Are there any published works on marriages in the state of Texas?

One book owned by the UNT Library is Jordan R. Dodd's Texas Marriages, Early to 1850: A Research Tool 

How can I purchase a marriage certificate from the state of Texas?

Certified marriage certificates are only available at the county level in the county where the marriage took place. However the state does offer verification letters of a marriage taking place which can be ordered from the Texas Department of Health. You can access the form you need to send a request from their web page.

Divorces

Does the UNT Library have divorce records or certificates for people who divorced in the state of Texas?

Yes. The UNT Library owns some divorce minutes on microfilm for the counties of Cooke and Montague.

Where can I find divorce certificates for people who divorced in the state of Texas?

It depends on when the divorce took place. The state of Texas did not begin collecting divorce records at the state level until 1968. For divorces that occurred before 1968, you will need to check with the district clerk's office where the divorce occurred. You can find the address for district clerks' offices on this web page at the Texas Department of Health.

Are there any indexes to Texas divorce certificates?

Yes. A free index for 1968-2011 is available for download from the Texas Department of Health. There is no comprehensive index for divorces before 1968.

How can I purchase a divorce certificate from the state of Texas?

Certified divorce certificates are only available at the district level at the district clerk's office. However the state does offer verification letters for divorce decrees which can be ordered from the Texas Department of Health

County Tax Rolls

FAQ's concerning County Tax Rolls

Does the UNT Library have Texas county tax rolls?

Yes, the Library owns microfilm of Texas county tax rolls through 1910 that are available from the Texas State Library. 

How do I find my family in the tax rolls?

Within each county the tax rolls are arranged by the first letter ONLY of the taxpayer's last name. They are not strictly in alphabetical order nor are they indexed. This is known as a register index.

What kind of information can I find in the tax rolls?

Assessments of real and personal property, poll taxes, and other county and state taxes can be found in county tax rolls.

My family didn't own any land so tax records won't help me.

Tax rolls contain poll taxes and personal property taxes, so you should always check the tax rolls.

What would I use the tax rolls for?

Tax rolls help you put a family in a particular place for a given year. This is especially helpful for the years between the Census years and can serve as a substitute for the lost Census of 1890.

Is there anything else I should know about tax rolls?

Tax rolls are very irregular. They do not exist for certain counties and parts of others are missing. In particular, early tax rolls for a given county are not complete or have been lost entirely. See the Texas State Library for more information. Remember! County borders were changing all the time. Consult Ancestry's Red Book or Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790 - 1920 to locate where the county borders were at different time periods.

Wills and Probate

Information about UNT's holdings for wills and probate records.

Does the UNT Library have Texas probate records?

Yes. The UNT Library owns some probate records on microfilm for the counties of Denton, Cooke, Montague, and Wise.

Does the UNT Library have any indexes to probate records in Texas?

Yes, the Library has 29 of the 31 volumes of the Index to Probate Cases of Texas prepared by the Works Projects Administration. The counties the Library has volumes for are:

Atascosa (#9)

Bowie (#19)

Brazoria (#20) 

Brazos (#21)

Camp (#32)

Chambers (#36)

Coleman (#42)

Delta (#60)

Franklin (#80)

Gregg (#92) 

Hardin (#100)

Hays (#105)

Liberty (#146)

 Marion (#155)

Morris (#172) 

Newton (#176)

Nolan (#177)

Orange (#181)

Robertson (#198)

Runnels (#200) 

Rusk (#201)

San Saba (#206) 

Shelby (#210)

Titus (#225)

Trinity (#228)

Waller (#237) 

Williamson (#246)

Wood (#250) 

   

 

Census Records

FAQs about census records available at UNT 

Does the UNT Library have the Federal Census for the state of Texas?

Yes, the Libraries own all available federal censuses for Texas from 1850 to 1930. The only census available for 1890 is the 1890 Texas Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows; this indexes only Union soldiers from the state of Texas. These records are on microfilm and can be requested through the library catalog. Access to these records online is also available through Ancestry Library Edition at the UNT Libraries. 

Census Records are so hard to read! Why do I want to use them anyway?

Census records help you develop the make-up of a family. Each census contains different information and by collecting all census records you can place a particular family at a particular place at a particular moment in time. Census records also help you locate lost children, siblings, parents and grandparents. Census records are an excellent, easy way to begin your genealogy research and give you a framework from which to work.

Does the UNT Library have indexes and/or the Soundex for the Federal Census for the state of Texas?

The Library owns indexes or the complete Soundex for the years of 1850 through 1920. Printed indexes are available for the years 1850 through 1880. The Soundex is available for 1900, 1910 and part of 1920. The index for the surviving 1890 census is also available. 

What is this Soundex you keep referring to?

The Soundex is a coded surname (last name) index based on the way the surname sounds rather than the way it is spelled. It was developed so you can find a surname even though it may be recorded under various spellings. Every surname consists of a letter and three numbers. The letter is always the first letter of the surname. For example, if Smith was spelled under both Smith and Smyth, the Soundex code would be S530 for both. The National Archives web page has a thorough discussion of the Soundex system.

Are there any federal censuses for Texas before 1850?

No. Though the federal decennial census began in 1790, there are no federal censuses available for Texas before 1850 because Texas didn't become a state until 1845. No censuses were taken under the Republic of Texas (1836-45) although tax rolls can serve as a substitute for those years. Published records for this period include Gifford E. White's 1830 Citizens of Texas (e-book and print available) and 1840 Census of the Republic of TexasCitizens of the Republic of Texas, and Stephen F. Austin's Register of Families: From the Originals in the General Land Office, Austin, Texas. Consult Ancestry's Red Book for a discussion of the various censuses taken under the Spanish and Mexican governments.

Has the state of Texas ever conducted any censuses?

No. Some states have taken their own state censuses, but the state of Texas has never taken a state census.

Does the UNT Library own census records for other states?

Yes, the library owns some censuses for other states for just the years 1790 – 1820. They are: Connecticut (1790 – 1820), Delaware (1800 – 1820), District of Columbia (1800, 1820), Georgia (1820), Illinois (1820), Indiana (1820), Kentucky (1810 – 1820), Louisiana (1810 – 1820), Maine (1790 – 1820), Maryland (1790 – 1820), Massachusetts (1790 – 1820), Mississippi (1820), New Hampshire (1790 – 1820), New York (1790 – 1820), North Carolina (1790 – 1820), Ohio (1820), Pennsylvania (1790 – 1820), Rhode Island (1790 – 1820), South Carolina (1790 – 1820), Tennessee (1810 – 1820), Vermont (1790 – 1820), and Virginia (1810 – 1820). They are all on microfilm. Additionally other states' census records are available via Ancestry (publicly accessible for free at UNT Libraries) and Family Search. The years vary.

Where can I get other states' federal census records?

The Southwest Regional Branch of the National Archives, located in Fort Worth, has all available federal censuses for all states on microfilm. They also have all available Soundex for all states. Other large collections of census records for other states may be found at the Dallas Public Library and the Fort Worth Public Library as well as online through sites such as Family Search and Ancestry (available for free at UNT Libraries). 

Does the information on the Census change from year to year?

Yes. The Census has been taken every ten years since 1790. The censuses from 1790 through 1840 only listed the name of the head of the household and the numbers of people in various categories. The censuses from 1850 through 1920 lists every free person in the house, often gives their relationship to the head of the household, and lists their age and place of birth. Separate slave schedules exist for 1850 and 1860.

What happened to the 1890 Census?

Less the one percent of the 1890 Census survived a fire in 1921. What wasn't destroyed by fire was badly damaged by   water. What survived is available on microfilm; see the National Archives. For states Alabama through Kentucky (part), the 1890 Census of Civil War Veterans or Their Widows was also destroyed. See an article  in Prologue titled "First in the Path of the Firemen: The Fate of the 1890 Population Census."

Military Records

Answers to questions about different types of military records useful in family history research.

Revolutionary War

Does the UNT Library own any guides to Revolutionary War records?

The Library owns a published work A Census of Pensioners for Revolutionary or Military Services… Under the Act for Taking the Sixth Census: A General Index. This indexes pensioners as indicated in the 1840 federal census.

Civil War - Confederate

Does the UNT Library have Confederate Civil War pension records?

No. Confederate pension records for soldiers residing in Texas are available from the Texas State Library, and you may request them via email. The Libraries do have an print index to Texas Confederate Civil War pension records, Virgil D. White's Index to Texas CSA Pension Files and an index is available online through the Texas State Library's web page.

Where can I find Confederate Civil War pension records from other states? Are they at the National Archives?

Confederate Civil War pension records are located in the state where the soldier resided, not the state from which he served. Confederate pensions were not given out as early as Union pensions so if your ancestor moved after the War, you'll want to make sure to check with the state he moved to as well. Confederate pension records are not at the National Archives, but compiled service records are located there. A list of locations for state records in print and online is listed here on the Family Search Wiki.

Does the UNT Library have Confederate Civil War compiled service records?

The Library has compiled service records for Confederate soldiers who served from Texas on microfilm. The title is Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations From the State of Texas. There is an index to these service records, and the index is on microfilm as well - Index to Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers who Served in Organizations From the State of Texas.

Does the UNT Library have service records for Confederate soldiers who served from other states?

No, but you can find them at the National Archives' Southwest Regional Branch in Fort Worth as well as online on sites such as Family Search, Ancestry, and Fold3. 

Civil War - Union

Does the UNT Library have Union Civil War pension records? Where can I find Union pension records?

No, the UNT Libraries do not have any Civil War pension records. Union pension records are located at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. They are not on microfilm, but you can order copies online or with a NATF 85 form which you can request online, pick up at the National Archives - Southwest Regional Branch in Fort Worth, or send a written request for the form. The web site contains more information.

Does the UNT Library have Union Civil War compiled service records? Where can I find compiled service records for Union soldiers?

The UNT Library has the Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers who Served in Organizations From the State of Texas on microfilm. You will also find Texas Union veterans and their widows in the 1890 Texas Census Index of Civil War Veterans or Their WidowsThe UNT Library does not have the actual census - just the index.

Where can I find service records for Union soldiers from other states?

Service records for Union soldiers can be found at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The National Archives - Southwest Regional Branch has selected Union compiled service records on microfilm.

Civil War - General Information

What other resources are available for learning about the Civil War?

The American Civil War is probably one of the most written about topics. Along with the thousands of books owned by the UNT Library about specific campaigns, military leaders, battles, and daily life, there are some resources of particular interest to the genealogists such as the Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Soldiers From Texas - Military Records

What other kinds of miscellaneous records are available for men who served from Texas?

The Texas State Library has an index to service records and other records related to an individual's military service located on their web site.

When do Texas military records begin? What is the location of most of the military records pertaining to Texans?

The earliest Texan military records begin in 1835. The largest collection of military and related records pertaining to Texans is housed in the Texas State Archives.

Does the UNT Library own any printed guides to various miscellaneous Texas military records?

The Library owns a published work Texas Ranger Indian War Pensions  by Robert W. Stephens and the Alamo Defenders: A Genealogy, the People and Their Words (e-book and print available).  

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