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Genealogy Research at Wilson Special Collections Library: County and Public Records

Public Records

Public records are invaluable for genealogical research. Public records include:

  • Ownership records
  • Births, marriages, and deaths
  • Court dockets and criminal records
  • Meeting minutes from public forums

The North Carolina Collection at Wilson Library does not have original versions of public and legal documents such as deeds and wills; rather the NCC holds published abstracts and transcriptions thereof. To determine whether an original exists, the best possibility is the State Archives in Raleigh.

To see what transcriptions and abstracts are held by the North Carolina Collection, search the catalog for the name of the county and then the type of document; for example, Chatham County -- Deeds.

Census Information

The North Carolina Collection holds microfilm copies of the federal population census for North Carolina for the years 1790-1940, as well as several published indexes to census records. These materials are indexed in the online catalog.

The collection also has non-population schedules such as slave, industrial, and agricultural, some on microfilm, but also transcribed in print form.

County Records

One can search the online catalog for all genealogical material related to a specific county. For instance, to find all genealogical material covering Mecklenburg County, type Mecklenburg County (N.C.) -- Genealogy in the Words in Subject Heading box.

In addition to published family histories that can be found in our catalog by searching for a family name, the North Carolina Collection also holds published county histories and genealogical compilations as well. Many of these are published by local history and genealogical societies.