The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research is an international research collection containing materials for all 50 states and many foreign countries. The collection contains approximately 100,000 books; 3000 periodical titles; 70,000 reels of microfilm; a microfiche and microcard collection as well as numerous electronic databases. To search for books available at Clayton Library please visit the Houston Public Library Online Catalog. For microprint and periodical collections please visit the online database pages. A list of the available electronic databases can be found by clicking here.
USA and State Materials – As one of the largest collections in the United States, Clayton Library has many sources available on microprint and in book form. Clayton's holdings include county and state histories, as well as abstracts of records such as wills, deeds, marriages, court minutes, vital records, church, cemetery records and colonial collections of several states. Many original records on microfilm and microfiche are part of the collection, including city directories for major US cities through 1910. Territorial Papers of the U.S. and the American State Papers with the Grassroots index as well as many other well-known research aids are available. The Papers of the Continental Congress are on microfilm with indexes in book form.
Texas and Houston Area – Clayton Library has a large collection of material related to Texas and the Houston area specifically including some special collections such as the Boulevard and Fogle West Funeral Home Records, City of Houston Death Records, the R. B. Blake Collection and other archival materials available on microfilm that cover early Texas history. If by chance you cannot find what you are looking for here you may want to visit the Houston Metropolitan Research Center, Houston Public Library's local history and archives special collection.
Census Records - Locating your ancestors in every available census during their lifetime is an excellent way to begin your genealogical research. You should start with the most recent census and work backwards in time. The U.S. Federal Population Census has been taken every ten years since 1790. The Federal Censuses are released to the public 72 years after they are taken. This wait is to ensure the privacy of the individuals listed on the census. The 1940 census is the newest census available and was released on April 2nd, 2012. Clayton Library has all of the Federal Censuses that have been released and copies of many censuses taken by state governments during "off" years. Clayton also has indexes available for these census records in book, microprint, and electronic formats.
Passenger and Immigration Sources – Clayton Library has a number of resources that can be used in tracing immigrant ancestors to their country of origin. Ship passenger lists, naturalization records, and census records are among the most common sources used in researching immigrants.
Clayton Library has a large collection of National Archives passenger lists on microfilm for U.S. ports from 1820 into the 20th century. Indexes are available for most ports through the mid-20th century, on microfilm, in books, and electronically. Printed indexes such as Filby's Passenger and Immigration Lists Index are available to research passenger arrivals for colonial and later time periods.
Naturalization records and indexes are available at Clayton for many areas, including Harris and Galveston counties in Texas. Numerous other sources are available in print and on microfilm to locate immigrant information.
To search Clayton Library's holdings for passenger and naturalization records, check the Houston Public Library Catalog (for printed books) and the Clayton Microprint Database. The reference staff at Clayton can assist you to identify and use possible sources.
Special Collections – These materials are generally manuscript documents that have been microfilmed and made available for research. This material normally covers 15th, 16th and early 17th century time periods. For more information about some of the collections available at Clayton please visit the Special Collections page.
International Resources – Clayton Library's collection of international sources is focused on identifying immigrant origins and beginning research overseas. "How to" books to aid research are available on many countries.
The emphasis is primarily on Europe, Canada, and Mexico.
Great Britain is represented by such items as the Vital Records Indexes 1837-1930 for England and Wales, Phillimore's Marriage Registers, the Index Library, Victoria County History Series, and Harleian Society Publications.
Among the German materials are Der Wappenbuch, Deutsches Geschlechterbuch, and the "Hamburg Passenger Lists" (Auswandererlisten).
An excellent collection of Canadian materials is owned including Repertoire des Actes de Bapteme, Mariage, Sepulture, et des Recensements du Quebec Ancien.
Among Clayton's records for Mexico are many books abstracting church records from towns in the Mexican states of: Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas. Clayton also has a large collection of 20th century "Border Crossings" on microfilm.
A large number of books on heraldry are available, including Burke's Peerage and Rietstap's Illustrations to the Armorial General.
To search Clayton Library's holdings of foreign sources, check the Houston Public Library Catalog (for printed books) and the Clayton Microprint Database.
Military Records – Clayton Library holds microfilm indexes to federal service records from the American Revolution through the Philippine Insurrection, including Indexes to Registers of Enlistment, 1789-1914, indexes to confederate and union service records, and indexes to service records in the Mexican War, Indian wars, and Spanish-American War. Clayton also has indexes to most confederate pension applications; indexes to federal pensions from 1776-1934 (iwhich ncludes union soldiers in the Civil War); Revolutionary War pension applications; and the special 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows. World War I Selective Service draft registration cards are available for Texas and Louisiana. In addition to microfilm holdings, Clayton has an extensive collection of military sources in print, particularly for the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. Military service records and pension applications are also being digitized and made available through the various electronic databases the Houston Public Library subscribes to.
To search Clayton Library's holdings of military records, check the Houston Public Library Catalog (for printed books) and the Clayton Microprint Database.
Family Histories – Clayton Library has one of the most extensive collections of published and unpublished family histories in the southern United States. The collection contains over 15,000 cataloged volumes and extensive vertical file materials.
To search for cataloged books in Clayton's Family History collection, check the Houston Public Library Catalog. For best results, search for your surname as a subject heading phrase (example: "Watkins Family") in the Keyword Search window. Books will be shelved by the first surname in the title.
Microprint – A variety of records are available on microfilm and microfiche including census records, military records, vital records and county records. To search for microprint materials available at Clayton Library use the Microprint Database. We suggest searching by location and type of record such as “Texas” and “vital” if you are looking for birth, marriage or death records in the state of Texas.
Periodicals – Clayton Library has over 3000 genealogy and local history periodical titles. The periodical collection covers most US states, many foreign countries and many surnames.
Many of these periodicals are indexed in the Periodical Source Index (PERSI), which is available at Clayton in book format and through Houston Public Library's subscription to the HeritageQuest Online database. PERSI is also available in many other libraries, check with your local librarian.
To determine Clayton's holdings of a particular periodical please search Clayton's Periodical Database.
Maps – Understanding the geographic context in which your ancestors lived is an important step in identifying sources for other records. Clayton Library has an extensive collection of maps covering most US states and many foreign countries. The collection ranges in scope from colonial times to the present day and includes topographic, political, and historic maps in a wide variety of scales.
In addition, Clayton actively collects published historic atlases and gazetteers, from the acclaimed Atlas of Historical County Boundaries series to the Atlas of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 1861-1865 and the Family Map Series, landowner maps.
To search Clayton Library's holdings of geographic aids, check the Houston Public Library Catalog (for atlases and gazetteers) or come into Clayton to search the Clayton Map Collection for individual maps.
Vertical Files – Clayton Library maintains an extensive collection of vertical file materials of family research. Examples of the types of materials found in the vertical files include: pedigree charts, researcher notes, and photocopies of documents.
The Family files, which are part of the Family History collection are located on the second floor, as they are not digitized one needs to visit the library to access them.
Family History Library Affiliate Program - Through this program you may rent microfilm from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and have it sent to Clayton Library for viewing and to make any photocopies. You will need to visit the FHL library catalog to find the film number and then visit www.familysearch.org/films to order the film. A Clayton Library staff member will be happy to assist you with this process.
Online Resources - There are numerous websites and databases available to aid you in your research. Houston Public Library provides access to some of the subscription sites for free either on location or from home with a PowerCard. For lists of websites and more information please visit the following pages: Houston Public Library's Genealogy Research page, Clayton's Database page and Clayton's Useful Links page.