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Genealogy Databases - More Than Ancestry LE

by Christine Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

AJ 53 18

Group of people watching a band in Lethbridge, 1961

Alison Jackson Photography Collection, AJ 53-18

Most genealogists are aware that the Calgary Public Library has a subscription to Ancestry Library Edition. This is a great service for customers who don’t have their own, personal subscriptions to the Ancestry products. But what some family historians don’t know is that there are a lot of other online subscription resources available that can help in their genealogical searching. So, over the next few months I thought I would tell you all a little bit about some of these resources so you can explore some of these little jewels.

The first database I am going to introduce is the Biography and Genealogy Master Index. It is found, along with Ancestry LE, in the E-Library under History and Genealogy. You get to it from the library homepage,, by clicking on E-Library in the black navigation bar at the top of the page. You can also access it from the library catalogue by clicking on E-Library in the bar at the top of any page in the catalogue. Then just click on “History and Genealogy”. Because these are subscription databases, you do need to go through the E-Library link and you will also have to log in using your library card number and PIN.

Biography and Genealogy Master Index is the second in the list. This index has been around for a very long time. When I first started at the library (cretaceous period) this was a 3 volume paper index to biographies published in biographical dictionaries, subject encyclopedias, literary criticism which includes biographical information and other indexes. This sounds very mundane and ‘library-ish” I know, but this resource allowed us to find biographical information on some very obscure people whose biographies had not been published in book form. I always test genealogical databases by typing in my maiden name, which is quite unusual. Imagine my delight when I turned up biographical information about my great-great uncle who was a writer of inspirational books and hymns. There were entries for him in a number of resources. Because of the scope of this index, your ancestor may also have an entry in the BGMI (acronym – we love acronyms in libraries!) The sources indexed cover many, many different subject areas. For example, BGMI indexes biographies in The A t o Z of Scientists in Weather and Climate; Ad Men and Women; Automotive News; The Biographical Dictionary of Chinese Women; Biographical Index of Artists in Canada; The Boxing Register; Who’s Who in Asian and Australian Politics just to name a few. Keep in mind, though, this is an index only. It doesn’t contain full text articles; it merely points you to the source. We have quite a few of the resources indexed at the Calgary Public Library and we can usually arrange to have photocopies delivered via our interlibrary loan service of those we don’t have in our collection (but there is a charge for this service). If you have any questions, you can email us at or telephone us at 403-260-2785.

So, when you are starting your search for information, BGMI is a good starting point.


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