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How Do I Do Genealogical Research?


Use McMaster's Library Catalogue to find books on your topic. Click the Help link for searching tips & strategies.

To search for materials in all the libraries on campus, use the Library Catalogue.

The most used search options are:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Subject - Library of Congress [LCSH]
  • Subject Keyword(s)
  • Keyword

To search for a TITLE:

  • Click on Title in the Search box.
  • Type the title of the book in the box to the right. (Do not include a, an or the if these words appear as the first word of the title.)
  • Click the GO button.


To search for an AUTHOR:

  • Click on Author in the Search box.
  • Type the author's name in the box to the right. (Always type the last name first).
  • Click the GO button.


To search for a SUBJECT:

When you visit the library, you will frequently be looking for books ABOUT a certain topic, place or person. To find these types of books, you must do a SUBJECT search on MORRIS.

  • Click on Subject in the Search box.
  • Type the subject in the box to the right.
  • Click the GO button.

    To do a proper subject search on MORRIS, you need to use the correct Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH). A few subject headings that may be of interest to genealogists are:

    • Registers of births, etc. - specific place
            (Example: Registers of births, etc. - Ontario)
    • specific place - Genealogy
            (Example: Canada - Genealogy)
    • Ships - Passenger lists
    • Probate records – specific place
            (Example: Probate records – England)
    • Wills – specific place
            (Example: Wills – Scotland)
    • Epitaphs – specific place
            (Example: Epitaphs – Ontario – Glengarry)
    • Obituaries – specific place
            (Example: Obituaries – Ontario)

    For further suggestions, a list of subject headings can be found in a red, five volume set of books called the Library of Congress Subject Headings. These volumes are kept next to the Research Help Desk on the 2nd floor of Mills Library. If you need any help understanding these lists, please ask for assistance at the Research Help Desk. Once you have a list of the proper subject headings, you can sit down at one of the computer stations and search for relevant books on your topic(s).

    If you do not have access to the set of LC Subject Headings, use the MORRIS SUBJECT KEYWORD(S) index. This option allows you to search for keywords in the subject record. Place an asterisk (*) after each word to broaden the possible search term (e.g. regist* will look for the words register, registers, registry, etc.). Typing in the words regist* and birth* will find entries dealing with the subject of registers and births.


To Search for KEYWORD:

To search for keywords anywhere in the MORRIS record, choose the KEYWORD(S) ANYWHEREindex. Place an asterisk (*) after each word to broaden the possible search term (e.g. genealog* will look for the words genealogy, genealogical, genealogist, etc).

  • Click on one of Keyword(s) Anywhere indexes in the SEARCH box
  • Type the keyword(s) in the box to the right
  • Click the GO button.

Interpreting the Record

If your search found only one item, it's bibliographic record will appear on the screen. Information will include the title, author, subject headings, and publishing information. Beneath this will be the holdings information. This will tell you which campus library the item is housed in, as well as its location within the library and call number. To find out if the item is on the shelf, click on Current Location and Status on the left side of the screen. The next screen will tell you if the title is available.

To find the book on the shelf, make note of the location and call number. To determine which floor your book is located on use a Mills Library Book Locator slip. These can be found next to the computers in the library.

If your search resulted in multiple titles, click on each individual title to access the full record.

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