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Genealogists are looking for one thing: PEOPLE. The US Government has kept a record of its people for two centuries. People are born, go to school, work, serve in the military, migrate, and die. At each event some kind of record is made. Some of the early records are sparse; recent records are confidential, but many of these records have been published—some even on the internet—and, as a result, the OU Government Documents Collection is a potential treasure house for genealogical research. Additionally, in the age of the Internet, much information that was only previously found in disparate library collections, now is as close as the nearest computer.



 National Archives and Records Administration

Established in 1934, NARA is an independent agency of the US Government charged with preserving and documenting government and historical records and with increasing public access to these documents.

     *Resources for Genealogists:


Library of Congress,

Established in 1800, the Library of Congress is the research library of the US Congress and the de facto national library of the USA. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the US  and the largest library in the world, holding 32 million books and 61 million manuscripts.      

     *Local History and Genealogy Reading Room:



Census Data,

Since 1790, the US has conducted a census every ten years. The records of the 1790-1940 Censuses have been released, and are available for research. The most recently released was the 1940 Census which premiered in 2012. As census records are not released until 72 years after their origin date, the 1950 Census will not be released until 2022.  

   * US Census Bureau Genealogy:

   *1940 Census


Maps and Gazetteers

Genealogist know the value of such geographical aids such as maps and gazetteers. Among other uses, these resources can help locate an old homestead, or assist in using the Census schedules. 

     *Geologic Survey, Using Maps in Genealogy:


     *Geological Survey, National Map:


Serial Set

Since 1817, Congress has published its House and Senate reports and documents in a serialize publication called the Serial Set. These are important for genealogist as in their pages is the largest collection of family data compiled by the Federal government. The Serial Set contains military records, immigration records, land records, lists of government employees, pension records, as well as much, much more.

    *US Serial Set:

    *Proquest Congressional:

      (Must be OU faculty, staff, or student - or be in the OU Library—to access this database)


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Where to Write for Vital Records

This gives the address to which written requests for birth or death certificates can be sent. Because these records are kept by the individual states, this page is organized by state.


Bureau of Indian Affairs, Guide to Tracing Your American Indian Ancestry

The Bureau of Indian Affairs presents information specifically for persons researching American Indian ancestry.


NARA, Index to the Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (Dawes)

This is the index od the names of individuals entitled to enrollment on the rolls of the various tribes comprising the Five Civilized Tribes in Indian Territory (Oklahoma). The index entries are arranged by tribe and there under by enrollment category (Cherokee By Blood, Cherokee Minor, Cherokee Freedmen, etc.).


Library of Congress, Afro-American Genealogical Research Bibliographies and Other Useful Sources

 A selected list of books in the Library of Congress compiled primarily for researchers of Afro-American lineages.


Genealogical Resources in U.S.  Federal Depository Libraries:​

This guide was created by the staff of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and lists a myriad of genealogy-related government sources, available in paper and/or online.



Cleveland County Genealogical Society Library:

     Established as a non-profit association, the CCGS is located in Norman, OK. The Library was established in 1990. In 2019, the CCGS Library closed and their materials were  merged into the Norman Public Central Library.



Oklahoma Genealogical Society:

     Established in 1955 as a non-profit educational organization, the OGS is located in Oklahoma City.



Oklahoma History Center:

       The Oklahoma Historical Society was founded in 1893, and its History Center opened in 2005.



Subject Guide

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Jeffrey Wilhite
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Note on Research

Research into government documents will take a good amount of time, as government information is not easily accessible. But for those who allot the time and persevere through the research process, the reward with be great.

The OU Government Documents Collection does not have staff to do the genealogical work for you, but we can help you find the sources you need, that you can then review for the person you are researching. 



Although it may seem that “everything is on the internet” is it not.  There are many, many paper government resources, especially

for a topic as specific as genealogy, that are not currently online and may never appear there. For these sources you will need to consult your local government documents library.

All items at OU Libraries will be out at the Library Service Center (LSC) Storage must be paged via Sooner Xpress , found here:

Here are examples of only a few paper genealogy-related documents we have:

C 3.10:     

    Official Register of the US (lists all non-military Federal employees)

GS 4.2: R 35  

    Federal Records of WW II (civilian and military agencies)

N 16.6:

    Records of the Union & Confederate Navies in the War of the Rebellion 

 W 1.1:

    War Department Annual Reports  (roster of officers)

W 3.10:

    Army List and Directory (roster of officers)

 W 3.11:

    Historical Register of the Army...1789-1903  (roster of officers, volunteers)

Serial Set 4595

    Les Combattants Francais de la Guerre Americiane, 1787-1783 (French who fought in American Revolution)

Serial Set 249-251

    List of Pensioners on the Roll, Revolutionary War