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Local History & Genealogy Research Guide: Family Histories

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Local Area Museums & Government Offices

Angier Museum: The museum collects and exhibits artifacts from Angier, NC.

Averasboro Battlefield and Museum: The Averasboro Battlefield and Museum is dedicated to the Battle of Averasborough, a Civil War battle fought on March 16, 1865. The museum, founded in 1994 by the Averasboro Battlefield Commission, Inc, is located on the battlefield in Dunn, North Carolina. The Battlefield attained National Register Historic District status in May 2001. Also on the battlefield and considered to be part of the museum is the restored Chicora Civil Cemetery.

Coats Museum: The town of Coats, North Carolina, was chartered in 1905. The museum is located in the beautiful Coats Heritage Square and invites visitors to learn more about the town and surrounding area.

Dunn Area History Museum: The museum collects and preserves artifacts and other historical materials pertaining to the history, culture and heritage of the Dunn area. 

Erwin History Museum: The museum collects and exhibits artifacts related to Erwin NC history.

Harnett County Register of Deeds: Search for birth, death, marriage, and real estate records.

Harnett County Clerk of Superior Court: This office is "responsible for filing, processing, indexing and maintaining every document filed in all of Harnett County's criminal courts, civil courts, domestic courts, juvenile courts and proceedings before the Clerk." It also provides "public access to the court records and furnishes copies thereof." It also handles matters of Wills and Estates, as well as name changes and adoptions. You can contact the Clerk of Court regarding records at their online inquiry page linked above, or by calling 910-814-4600.

Yearbooks

From schools in or near Harnett County

*Yearbooks in blue are available through Digital NC.

  • We encourage patrons to view digitized yearbooks online to preserve the originals

*Yearbooks in orange are available to view in-house only at the Harnett County Main Library in Lillington.

Genealogy Resources

Ancestry Library Edition contains a collection of genealogy databases that are cross-searchable from a single search engine – meaning that from one search you could get results ranging from census records to death certificates. Ancestry Library Edition is usually only available at the library, but until December 31, 2021 the website is available for use at home. [Requires Harnett County Library Card; must be physically in the library to access this database]

Cemetery Census (Harnett County): Pictures, names, and dates from local cemeteries

Family Echo allows you to draw your printable family tree online. Free and easy to use, no login required. Add photos and share with your family. Import/export GEDCOM files.

FamilySearch is “a nonprofit organization and website offering genealogical records, education, and software.” Provides access to “Cemetery records, birth, death, and marriage records, census records, obituary records, and more. Requires a free account.

FindaGrave.com (Harnett County): Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials, add 'virtual flowers' and a note to a loved one's grave, etc.

Harnett County Obituary Database: A database with obituaries from Harnett County. You can search via last name, first name, name of cemetery, or by the survivor’s name (i.e. the deceased wife, brother, etc. if they were still living at the time of the obituary’s printing).

Legacy Family Tree Webinars: A popular webinar website to learn more genealogy topics, where you can enjoy a robust offering of live and recorded webinars presented by top speakers. Full access to the website requires a paid membership, however, newly published videos are available for free for a week from its published date.

North Carolina Family Records Online

The Family Records Collection is comprised of North Carolina family history materials from the holdings of the State Archives of North Carolina and State Library of North Carolina. The searchable online collection currently contains:

  • Nearly 1,500 Bible records (lists of birth, marriage, and death information written in North Carolina family Bibles) from the 2000+ copies of various donated family Bibles held by the State Archives of North Carolina
  • Indexed marriage and death announcements from five North Carolina newspapers (Raleigh Register, North Carolina State Gazette, Daily Sentinel, Raleigh Observer, and News & Observer) from 1799 to 1893
  • Photographs of headstones and general views of the Raleigh Hebrew Cemetery and the Hebrew section of Historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh
  • Copies of genealogical research donated to the Government and Heritage Library.

USGenWeb (Cumberland County) and USGenWeb (Harnett County): The USGenWeb Project is a group of volunteers working together and having fun providing free online genealogy help and information for every U.S. state and county. Our national site provides links to state sites, which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties.

African American Genealogy

African American Records - Freedmen's Bureau: In the years following the Civil War, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (the Freedmen's Bureau) provided assistance to tens of thousands of former slaves and impoverished whites in the Southern States and the District of Columbia.

Born in Slavery - Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936 to 1938: This website contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves.  These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project (FWP) of the Works Progress Administration, later renamed Work Projects Administration (WPA). 

Digital Library on American Slavery: This database houses the Race and Slavery Petitions Project, the NC Runaway Slave Advertisements project, People Not Property - Slave Deeds of North Carolina, and Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

Documenting the American South: "North American Slave Narratives" collects books and articles that document the individual and collective story of Black people struggling for freedom and human rights in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. This collection includes all the existing autobiographical narratives of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people published as broadsides, pamphlets, or books in English up to 1920. Also included are many of the biographies of self-emancipated and formerly enslaved people and some significant fictionalized first-person accounts of enslavement published in English before 1920.

The Freedman's Savings and Trust Company and African American Genealogical Research: Among the most underused bodies of federal records useful for African American genealogical research are the records of the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. Chartered by Congress in early 1865 for the benefit of ex-slaves, the surviving records relating to the bank and its collapse are a rich source of documentation about the African American family. In an effort to protect the interests of depositors and their heirs in the event of a depositor's death, the branches of what is generally referred to as the Freedman's Bank collected a substantial amount of detailed information about each depositor and his or her family. The data found in the files provide researchers with a rare opportunity to document the black family for the period immediately following the Civil War.

Mapping the Freedmen’s Bureau: This site is devoted to pointing out the many places that affected the newly freed survivors of slavery. The sites where Freedman’s Bureau offices were located are marked for you. In addition, other institutions that served former slaves are marked – the branches of the Freedman’s Savings Bank, Freedmen Schools, contraband camps, and even the location of battle sites where men who were in the US Colored Troops fought.

Smithsonian Institution – Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of North Carolina Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1870

Smithsonian Institution - Records of the Field Offices for the State of North Carolina, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865–1872

Slave Narratives Guide: A guide to primary source accounts of life under slavery.

Newspapers & Maps

American’s News: Explore and stay informed on local and national topics, people and events in areas such as business, health, education, jobs and careers, political and social issues and more. Features a wide variety of credible, vetted news sources spanning the U.S., including The Daily Record (Dunn), The Fayetteville Observer, The News & Observer (Raleigh), and more! Also available remotely 24/7 on any device. [Requires Harnett County Library Card]

Chronicling America: Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present.

Digital NC: Explore the history and culture of North Carolina through original materials from cultural heritage repositories across the state. Newspapers, photos, yearbooks, and more can be found freely on their website!

Heritage Hub: The premier collection of U.S. obituaries and death notices, 1704 – today. [Requires Harnett County Library Card]

Library of Congress – Collections with Maps: explore maps in a variety of languages, from across the world, from as early as 1100 to the present.

UNC'S North Carolina Maps is a comprehensive, online collection of more than 3,000 historic maps (1500s to 2000), and includes detailed maps for each of North Carolina's one hundred counties.

General History Research Tools

ArchivesGrid: This database includes over 7 million records describing archival materials, bringing together information about historical documents, personal papers, family histories, and more. With over 1,400 archival institutions represented, ArchiveGrid helps researchers looking for primary source materials held in archives, libraries, museums and historical societies.

Digital Public Library of America: The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) provides access to millions of photographs, manuscripts, books, sounds, moving images, and more from libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. Find primary sources to use in school projects, academic research, family history research, and more.

Historypin: Historypin is a digital, user-generated archive of historical photos, videos, audio recordings and personal recollections. Users are able to use the location and date of their content to "pin" it to Google Maps.

Internet Archive: The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, they provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Their mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.

NCpedia: The online encyclopedia about all things North Carolina.

North Carolina Digital Collections: This collection contains over 90,000 historic and recent photographs, state government publications, manuscripts, and other resources on topics related to North Carolina. The Collections are free and full-text searchable, and bring together content from the State Archives of North Carolina and the State Library of North Carolina.

StoryCorps: StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.

Family Histories

Some of our local genealogy enthusiasts have traced their family's history and given us a copy of their work. This information is in the process of being digitized and is available below.

Genealogical Research Material from Argyll, Scotland

Cemetery Information

Pictures, names, and dates from local cemeteries (that were previously  listed in our database) are now hosted at Cemetery Census . 

Buie Family

Sion Harrington Family

Publications

Local Periodicals

Our State - formerly known as The State - is now available online! Through the NC State Library, volumes 1 - 79 are available to view for free digitally. All issues are available from 1933 to 2011 here. The Harnett County Public Library keeps print copies of Our State from 2011 to the present.

The North Carolina Historical Review is still on our shelves from 1968 - present. Previous issues from 1924 - 1967 are available through the state library as well: here.

NCLA - The North Carolina Library Association - has made their journals available online. 1942 - 2013 are available through their digital archive.

Wildlife in North Carolina magazine is also available through NC Digital Collections! Their digital archive contains full issues from Vol. 1 No. 1 in 1937 through Vol. 67 No. 12 in 2003. There are a couple missing issues (2002, issue #10; 2001 issue # 2, and 1999 issues #6 and #7) which we will still have in the library. We also still have physical copies of 2004 - present.

Microfilm

Genealogy microfilm - census information, county records, and more - are available at the State Library in Raleigh. Please see their lists of what they have available to view at this link and in the document below.

Biographical Sketches of Harnett County

"Some of the following sketches are from Volume III of the set of books North Carolina: Rebuilding and Ancient Commonwealth published in 1928 by the American Historical Society, Inc. Chicago and New York. There will be an asterisk after the name (*).

Some of them have been taken from History of North Carolina: North Carolina Biography vols. 5 & 6, Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1919. There will be 2 asterisks (**) after the name.

Other sketches have been written by individuals about family members."

Census Records

Online Collections

The Luci Uzzle Collection: This web page duplicates the photograph album that was presented to the Harnett County Public Library in 1976. We have not changed Mrs. Uzzle's descriptions except to correct spellings. We have also included links and italicized editorial notes when available or appropriate.