Exploration in genealogy is a vibrant and growing hobby due to the endless boundaries for research. Avenues to explore continue to grow and an often underused resource for family history holdings are the university libraries.

When you sat in your college library years ago, sweating out a boring research paper late into the night, would you have imagined you would one day return to explore the library's genealogical holdings?

Well, most likely not, but you probably would not have guessed that many of your local genealogical and family history documents are held within your state's university library.

Brigham Young University has three free search engines of interest to genealogists including the Western States Marriage Records Index, Idaho State Death Index and Eastern Idaho Death Records.

The Rutgers University Library has a Special Collections section within their archives that includes bible and family records of New Jersey, a master file of New Jersey gravestone inscriptions, an emigrant register, cemetery records of New Jersey and the Charles Carroll Gardner Collection of New Jersey surnames and family histories.

I recently stumbled upon the Bentley Historical Library of the University of Michigan. This genealogical goldmine holds printed histories of Michigan counties and towns, city directories, census indexes, plat books, archived church records, funeral home records. And although they are unable to complete extensive research for you, they will conduct a one-hour free search with your e-mail request.

Completing a quick search within the Special Collections of my Alma Mater--Oklahoma State University--I instantly found published works of Oklahoma cemetery indexes, family histories and county histories. I contacted both of our state universities in Oklahoma upon the publication of my family history book and they gladly accepted my books for their collections.

So consider exploring university library archives for your ancestral search and remember to add this little known resource prize to your genealogical hunt.

And I promise...flashbacks of late nights cramming for college exams in the university library will be pleasantly replaced with ancestral research found.

Keep searching for answers,

Cheryl