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Researching Your Family's History

Welcome to Genealogy at the Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts

Newton Free Library, Newton, Massachusetts

Subscription Databases Available At No Cost Through the Library: American Ancestors, Ancestry, and Heritage Quest

Genealogy and Local History Websites: Free From Anywhere

The Newton Genealogy Club

The Newton Genealogy Club is about members helping members. We can discuss someone's research, resources (online and off) for an ancestor hunt, new developments, how a beginner can get started.  Anything related to family history is fair game. Our members have a range of experience, from rank beginners who don't know where to begin all the way to Ruy, a certified genealogist. (He began the club and I took over when he stepped down.)  Everyone needs help with something and the discussions are fun and very lively.

Interested? The Newton Genealogy Club always meets at the Newton Free Library on the second Wednesday of the month.  The only month we skip is August. The meetings are from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening in the Special Collections Room on the first floor of the library..

We meet in the Special Collections Room which is towards the back left of the first floor.  From the parking lot, you will go over a bridge and through the side door into the library.  Keep going straight along the corridor.  As you pass the circulation desk, take a right and go through the alcove under the sky light. Go through the door that is under the clock and take a sharp left and then a sharp right at the wall. You will see the doors to  Special Collections ahead on your left.

Why Family History?


There are many reasons why people become interested in family history.

1. It seems most often sparked by a sense of regret for connections not made.  You suddenly think of all the questions you wish you had asked.

2. It can be simple curiosity.  Where did I come from?  Who were my ancestors who lived before me?  What influenced them? Where and when did they live? Why did some come here?  So many questions.

3. Sometimes a medical genealogy can help solve medical questions about you or a family member.

4. Working with members of the family (older or younger) to help create bonds and forge connections. Sometimes this is an unintended consequence, but it's a great one.

5. Sometimes all or some of the above.

6. Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know.

Finding Genealogy Books and Magazines at the Newton Free Library

Genealogy Call Numbers and Several Subject Headings

 The Newton Free Library, like many public libraries, uses the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging and shelving non-fiction books.  Each number represents a subject category.  This allows you to go to the shelf looking for one book and finding others that may be of interest.  Below are Dewey numbers relating to genealogy and family history.


Click HERE to learn more about Dewey Decimal Classification

929  Genealogy This is a very broad category that is rarely used by our cataloger.

929.1  Genealogy  The more numbers you see after the decimal point, the narrower the category. This is where you will find most of the how to genealogy books.

929.107  Research   Here you will find the specific techniques and proceedures involved in doing genealogical research in a specific area.

929.2  Family History: The history of family groups as opposed to the biography of an individual.

929.3  Genealogical Sources

929.4  Personal Names: the origins and/or the history of last names (surnames) or first names (forenames).

929.42 Surnames (Last Names)

929.44 Forenames (Given Names)

929.5  Cemetery Records

929.6  Heraldry

929.7  Royal Houses


Under the Dewey Number you will usually see a letter then two numbers and then another letter. The letter and two numbers are usually the designation for a specific author. The last letter is the first letter of the title which is not an article (a, an or the).


 Genealogy -- Handbooks and Manuals  ["How to" books]

Genealogy -- [Place]

[Place] -- Genealogy -- Handbooks and Manuals ["How to" do place related research]

Note: A place can be a country, state, county, or town. For subject headings Massachusetts is abbreviated as Mass., not MA.

Location of Genealogy Books at the Newton Free Library

1st floor – In the Atrium on the first floor are all the new books that have come in during the last six months. Non-fiction books go in order around the room by Dewey number.

 2nd floor – All the older fiction and non-fiction books are currently on the second floor. Non-fiction Dewey numbers start from 000s near the Administrative Offices and work their way around the floor in a horseshoe shape.  The 929s (genealogy) will be near the back elevator. The travel books (914s – 919s) are pulled out of sequence and put at the end of the 900s to create a Travel Center. 

Special Collections – Here are housed non-circulating books relating to Newton history (on the right as you come in) and on Massachusetts history (on the left). Immediately to your left as you enter are genealogy magazines and genealogy reference books.

Genealogy LibGuide's Lists and Links

 Research Guides for Places and Topics 

Getting Your Hands On a Book You Know About

 Newton Free Library: If we have a book and your time is limited, just give us a call during library hours. We can put a reserve on it and pull it for you.  You could also just request it online, but that takes about a day or so longer if it's listed as available in the online catalog.

 Loans between libraries: Using your library card combined with its pin number or password, you can request that any book in the system be sent to your home library for you. It takes about a week. (The requested materials have to go to a central sorting area in between libraries. That way we can get books etc. from forty different libraries on one truck.)

Interlibrary loan: If you discover a book that the system doesn’t own, we can usually get it for you from anywhere in the continental United States. You can discover these book anywhere from World Cat and the Library of Congress (one of my favorite discovery places) to the smallest public library or historical society.

Family History Periodicals and Magazines at The Newton Free Library

There are a number of magazines and periodicals published on the subject of genealogy. Some cover a broad range of topics such as Internet Genealogy and American Ancestors.  Some are more specialized. Avotaynu and The New England Historic and Genealogical Register are two examples of these. You can take a look at magazines such as these at your local public library. Here at the Newton Free Library they are kept in the library's Special Collections Room. Most issues can be checked out. Magazines are the only items that do circulate from Special Collections. All other items housed here are for in house research only. Magazines offer a wealth of up-to-date information that can help your own research and offer tips that can save you a great deal of wasted time. You don't even have to subscribe. Take a look through some ours the next time you are in the library.

Avotaynu: The International Review of Jewish Genealogy Essential for Jewish family history, there is a great deal of information here that can be applied by everyone. Take a look.

Everton's Family History/Everton's Genealogical Helper  Unfortunately, this publication folded with the January/February 2009 issue. The material found in the "How to" sections offer key information and the links still work. The articles are extensive. Magazines for the years from 2000 to the last 2009 issue can be found in Special Collections on the first floor of the Newton Free Library. I have only found stray issues online. If anyone finds a database or website that has all or even most of the issues, please let me know. This link shows you only one year of Everton's. Once this page comes up, type in the word "Everton's" in the search box and you will find additional years listed.

Internet Genealogy  Here you will find brief articles on numerous topics cover up-to-date sites and time saving strategies for researching your family history using the Internet.

American Ancestors: News Magazine for the New England Historic Genealogical Society  Formerly "New England Ancestors," American Ancestors is produced by the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Not surprisingly, the articles are very well written and packed with information. You will be tempted to read it cover to cover, whether or not the articles have to do with your immediate research. Directly or indirectly, they may provide that one clue that gets you over your brick wall.

New England Ancestors: News Magazine for the New England Historic Genealogical Society  See American Ancestors directly above.  This is an earlier name for the same magazine.

New England Historical and Genealogical Register  The Register has been published since 1847. The work accepted for publication is scholarly research, well documented and footnoted. The Register also includes excellent reviews. Newton now only keeps two years plus the current year in hard copy.

Learning More About Genealogy Magazines

"Your Guide to Finding and Using Genealogy Periodicals" by Barbara Snow.

Reference Librarian/Family Historian

Ginny Audet's picture
Ginny Audet
Reference Department
Newton Free Library
330 Homer Street
Newton, MA 02459