There are numerous resources online where you can research your family history. Some of these resources require a subscription and charge a fee, but Houston Public Library subscribes to some of these databases for you and offers them to you free of charge. All you need is a Houston Public Library PowerCard. Below is a brief list of some of our online resources, for a more complete list go to the Genealogy Research page and the useful links page. Related content can also be found on Houston Public Library’s Newspaper Research page and History & Social Sciences Research page.

Free Inside the Library

  • Access Newspaper Archives
  • American Ancestors
  • Ancestry Library Edition
  • Fold3

Free from Home with PowerCard

  • 19th Century U. S. Newspapers
  • American Civil War Research Database
  • HeritageQuest.
  • ProQuest Obituaries
  • Texas Digital Sanborn Maps

How to access databases from home:

  • Go to
  • Choose the database (must be designated as one with at home access)
  • A screen will appear asking for your last name and PowerCard number.
  • Enter the appropriate information.
  • Click OK
  • You will then be directed to the database.

Additional resources on the Genealogy Research page that are available free all the time and do not require an HPL PowerCard are:

  • African American Heritage
  • Cemetery Records Online
  • FamilySearch
  • Houston City Directories
  • Portal to Texas History
  • U. S. GenWeb

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