Explore Your Topic: Genealogy

Our librarians have handpicked the most helpful resources on this topic from the Library collection and online.

Library Databases

Ancestry Library Edition (in-library use only)

A popular database for genealogical research. This resource includes records from around the world, including from the US, UK and Canadian census and vital records, immigration and passport records, periodicals and books, photos, and more.

Access to Ancestry Library Edition is available onsite at the library using library computers.

KnowBC (incl. Encyclopedia of British Columbia)

KnowBC is home to the online edition of the Encyclopedia of British Columbia, an authoritative resource on BC past and present. Also includes other major Pacific Northwest resources as well as guides on natural history. Features more than 4,000 articles and 1,500 accompanying photographs, maps, charts, and tables, as well as sound and video clips.

Points to the Past

Points to the Past provides access to nearly 200 million pages of digital historical content. Searchable primary source historical material dating 1450-2008, including maps, photos, newspapers, manuscripts, pamphlets, portraits, sermons and poems for research, teaching and learning. Includes titles from the Smithsonian, publications and archives of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, documents from the Slavery and Anti-Slavery Transnational Archive, treaties, state papers, declassified documents, British literary manuscripts, and more.

Available in the library and at home within BC. No library card required. 

On the Web

Electronic index to British Columbia's historical birth, death and marriage registration records.  Search BC Archives indexes to births (1854-1903), marriages (1872-1941), deaths (1872-1996), colonial marriages (1859-1872) and baptisms (1836-1888). 

Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet is a comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.

From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch provides free access to 4+ billions names from all over the world. You can create an account and build your family tree online free of charge.

A gateway to Canada's genealogical records provided by Library and Archives Canada (LAC). It provides genealogical content, advice, services and research tools.

Go directly to the Genealogical Research by Topic page to see what resources are available at Library and Archives Canada and other institutions and how to access them.

Visit the Links and Related Research page to see a list of other genealogical resources including Genealogical Societies, International Archives, Provincial and Territorial Archives and Libraries, as well as other resources.

Published by Library and Archives, Tracing Your Ancestors in Canada (PDF), is a guide to the genealogy resources available at LAC and how to access them.

Discover your past, discover yourself! Surrey Libraries, at their Cloverdale Library, has one of the largest Canadian family history collections in the country. This collection has over 5000 microfilms and over 3000 books. As well, there is access to genealogical databases (at Cloverdale Library only): Ancestry, Find My Past World, Heritage Quest, Points to the Past, and Scotland Places. Created by the Cloverdale Family History staff, there are links to genealogical research guides specific to each of the ten provinces. 

The UK's central advisory body on archives and manuscripts. Go directly to the Family History Research Guides page to learn how to find and use military records, wills, the census and a wide range of other records to trace your ancestors.

The U.S. National Archives is the keeper of the nation's Federal records. Resources of interest to genealogists include Census Records (1790 - 1940), Military Records, Immigration Records, and much more.  The site also offers guides and tools on how to use the Archives for genealogy research. Go directly to the Resources for Genealogists page to get started. 

VPL has a comprehensive genealogy and family history subject guide with helpful links to material in their own collection as well as links and ideas for searching elsewhere.  VPL also hosts free workshops on topics of genealogical interest.