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# Thursday, July 30, 2009
The Useful Genealogy Tool With the Funny Name
Posted by Diane

It’s a special year for NUCMC (“nuk-muk”), as FamilyTreeMagazine.com Forum member Happy Dae announced in a post.

NUCMC, blessedly short for National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, turns 50 this year.

In this free Library of Congress program, staff members enter information about the manuscript collections of participating US libraries into the WorldCat library catalog search engine—making those entries searchable by you.

See a timeline of NUCMC’s history here.

Manuscripts might be old papers, letters, diaries and more from local individuals and businesses. But these unique collections at individual libraries can be hard to locate without a program like NUCMC. 

The NUCMC Web site also gives you an interface to search the nearly 1.5 million manuscript catalog entries logged in WorldCat. Since 2006, you can search these and other types of library holdings on the WorldCat site itself—before then, only member libraries had access.

From 1959 to 1985, the NUCMC catalog was produced only as printed volumes—these entries aren’t searchable online. (Your library may have the volumes on paper or microfilm, or through a data service. See this page for more information.)

From 1986 to 1993, NUCMC records are available both online and in print. After 1993, they’re only online.

The NUCMC search is a little complex, so read the search instructions before you start.

WorldCat is more user-friendly to search, and you’ll turn up all types of materials: manuscripts as well as books, journals and more. You also can sign up for a free registration to save your searches, bookmark items and contribute reviews.

You can search both NUCMC and WorldCat on ancestors’ names, but this might not be productive because most names mentioned in a manuscript aren’t included in library catalogs. So try entering counties and towns where your ancestors lived; Civil War units; military battles or other historical events they participated in; an ethnicity, religion or country of origin; an occupation; and an employer or school.

Once you find a promising manuscript or other item, look for the subject heading assigned to the item, and click on the subject to see related materials.

It’s hard to do a comparison NUCMC/WorldCat search because the search forms are different. I got more results in NUCMC than WorldCat when I searched for archival materials with the subject Syrians—United States. So you might want to try both sites.

On WorldCat, click on a search result and then scroll down to see names of libraries that hold the item. On NUCMC, use the directions on this page to learn the name of the institution.


Libraries and Archives | Research Tips
Thursday, July 30, 2009 10:26:00 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [0]