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Sat: 9-5pm


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? Before the COVID lockdown, the Newton Genealogy Club always met at the Newton Free Library on the second Wednesday of the month.  The only month we skipped was August. The meetings were from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening in the Special Collections Room. For the duration, if you would like to join the Club's mailing list, just contact us at

The Special Collections Room is closed to the public at this time. When the library fully reopens you will be able to visit and browse the Special Collections Room as well as come to open meetings. For future reference, the room is located 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. A more recent development is DNA testing.  People think they are going to get more information from it than they do.  They need to start tracking their family the old fashioned way and start building their own tree to figure out exactly where and how they are related to their DNA matches.

5. Sometimes there is a mix of reasons.

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 then finding additional books 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 procedures involved in doing genealogical research in a specific area, such as a specific record type or location.

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 first 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 –Due to the even larger than normal number of book reservations we are receiving due to the COVID restrictions, all new books have been moved to the second floor. The first floor Atrium now houses items on reserve for patrons.

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. Currently there is no public access to Special Collection due to Covid restrictions.

 2nd floor – Newer circulating fiction and nonfiction books are housed near the front staircase. Check with the reference librarian who is also at the top of the stairs. Most of the older circulating fiction and non-fiction books remain 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. 

3rd floor- Here you will find foreign language books, books on the English language, and biographies.

Genealogy LibGuide's Lists and Links

 For Research Guides on Places and Topics click this link: 

Getting Your Hands On a Book 

 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 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. It can take longer depending on the library and COVID restrictions.  (The requested materials have to make a stop at a central sorting area between the sending and the receiving libraries. That way we can get books etc. from forty different libraries on one truck. It's the only cost effective way of maintaining this service between so many Minuteman network libraries.)

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 books anywhere from World Cat and the Library of Congress (one of my favorite discovery places) to the smallest online public library or historical society catalogs.

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 in Special Collections 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 otherwise. You don't even have to subscribe. Take a look through some ours the next time you are in the library. Note: Since the room is not open to the public at this time, just ask the reference librarian to get it for you. The reference "Ask" desk is under the skylight at the back left hand corner of the room.

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. 

Family Tree Magazine Our most recent arrival started arriving in 2019.  The topics range all over the genealogical spectrum. Currently the genealogical resources of two states are highlighted in each issue.

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

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