What is Genealogy?


It is the study of your family history -- tracing your ancestors.

Where do I start?

Census Data

Available on microfilm in the Reference Department of the Altoona Area Public Library:

Blair County 1850-1920
Huntingdon County 1790-1920



Altoona Tribune Feb. 1858 - Dec. 1889
Altoona Mirror 1929 - present.


Local Organizations

Blair County Genealogical Society

431 Scotch Valley Road
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
Open Hours
Monday 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Wednesday 10:30 AM - 3:30 PM, and 6:30 - 9:30 PM
Thursday 10:30 AM - 3:30 PM
Saturday 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Sunday 1:00 PM - 3:30 PM (on the last Sunday of the month only)

Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints
The Lower Brush Mountain Road
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648

Blair County Historical Society
3500 Baker Blvd. P.O.Box 1083
Altoona, PA 16603
Library and Genealogical Research are open
Tuesday and Friday 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
May 30 - October 31
Saturday and Sunday 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM
and by appointment out of season.


The Altoona Area Public Library holds several bibliographies which provide lists of titles that may be helpful in your search. With a bibliographic source in hand, you may want to check the Public Access Catalog to see which titles are available in the library. If not held here, it may be possible to borrow a title from another library through interlibrary loan service.

Bibliographies can be located by doing a Subject Keyword search on the Public Access Catalog under "genealogy--bibliographies". Examples of genealogy related bibliographies include:

  • Genealogies in the Library of Congress; A Bibliography. Baltimore: Magna Carta Book Co., 1972. R 016.921 Uni (Reference Dept.)
  • Lancour, Harold, and Richard J. Wolfe. A Bibliography of Ship Passenger Lists, 1538-1825, 3d ed. New York: New York Public Library, 1963. R 016.325 L228 (PA Room)
  • Library Catalog, 2d rev. ed. Washington D.C.: Daughters of the American Revolution, 1983. 929.20973 Dau (PA Room)
  • Reid, Judith P. Family Ties in England, Scotland & Ireland: Sources for Genealogical Research. Washington D.C.: Library of Congress, 1998. R 016.929 rei (Reference Dept.)
  • Stout, Leon J. Genealogical Resources in Pattee Library, the Pennsylvania State University. Boalsburg, Pa.: Central Pennsylvania Genealogical Society, 1979. 929.3 Gen (Non-Fic)


Available in the Pennsylvania Room

The Horseshoe. Altoona, Pa.: Altoona Area High School, 1906-present. 379.05 Alt (PA Room)
The Accolade. Altoona, Pa.: Bishop Guilfoyle High School, 1922-1984. 379.05 Bis (PA Room)


Guidebooks provide instruction on how to proceed, and where and how to locate information. Some overlap with bibliographies by providing lists of pertinent titles. Some important genealogical guides to be found in the Altoona Area Public Library collection are:

  • Eakle, Arlene, and Johni Cerney. The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Publishing Co., 1984. R 929.1 Sou (Reference Dept.)
  • Helm, Matthew, and April Leigh Helm. Genealogy Online for Dummies. Foster City, Ca.: IDG Books Worldwide, 1998. 929.10285 Hel (Non-Fic)
  • Hoenstine, Floyd G. Guide to Genealogical and Historical Research in Pennsylvania, 2d. ed. Hollidaysburg, Pa.: Hoenstine Rental Library, 1958. 016.9748 H671 (PA Room)

A variety of search strategies should be used to locate all of the titles the library has to offer. The broadest approach will bring over 180 titles which may not all be of interest to you. Some approaches follow.

Conduct a Subject Keyword search of the Public Access Catalog using combinations of terms:

  • "genealogy" (This is the broadest search which brings up over 180 titles)
  • "genealogy--handbooks, manuals, etc."
  • "genealogy--sources"
  • "genealogy--dictionaries"
  • "genealogy--methodology"
  • "genealogy--software"
  • "genealogy--computer programs"
  • "genealogy--data processing"
  • "genealogy--Pennsylvania"
  • "genealogy--Altoona (or Hollidaysburg, Martinsburg, etc.)
  • "genealogy--Blair County" (or another PA county)
  • "genealogy--catalogs"
  • "genealogy--Great Britain" (or Ireland, Italy, German, Hispanic American, etc.)

Other related terms to search:

  • "kinship"
  • "family"
  • "family history"
  • "family tree"
  • "clans"
  • "United States history--Blair County"


Marriage and death records for some churches and cemeteries can be located by conducting a Title search on the Public Access Catalog under "marriage records" and "death records". Some titles:

  • Marriage Application Records Blair County, Pa. 1885-1893. Altoona, Pa.: The Society, 1986. 929.3 Mar (PA Room)
  • St. Leo's Catholic Church Death Records, Altoona, Pa. 1932-1959. Altoona, Pa.: Blair County Genealogical Society, 1992. 929.37487 Sai (PA Room)


An index is a tool used to locate information within a document or to point to information located somewhere else. Some indexes related to genealogical research that you will find in the Altoona Area Public Library are:

  • Altoona Mirror Obituaries. Blair County Genealogical Society, 1963-1996. 929.37487 (PA Room)
  • Jackson, Ronald Vern, and Gary Ronald Teeples. Pennsylvania 1850 Census Index. Bountiful, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems, 1976. R 929.3748 (Reference Dept.)


Historical maps held in the Altoona Area Public Library include:

  • Iscrupe, William L., and Shirley G. Iscrupe. Pennsylvania Line: A Research Guide to Pennsylvania Genealogy and Local History, 4th ed. Laughlinton, Pa.: Southwest PA Genealogical Services, 1990. 974.8 Pen (ask at Reference Desk)
  • Atlas of Blair and Huntingdon Counties Pennsylvania from Actual Surveys of 1873. Philadelphia : Pomeroy, 1994. 912.748 Pom (one copy in Reference Department and another in PA Room)


Directories list people or organizations in a systematic way. Some search strategies for locating directories using the Public Access Catalog are:

  • Subject Keyword search on "genealogy--directories"
  • Title search on "city directory" and "Blair County directory"

Some titles located using these paths are:

  • Bentley, Elizabeth Petty. The Genealogist's Address Book, 4th ed. Baltimore : Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. R 929.1072 Ben (Reference Dept.) (1st ed., 1991 in Non-Fic)
  • Lant, J.H. Blair County Directoryfor 1870-71. Altoona, Pa. : Advance News Co., 1870. 917.48775 Bl (PA Room)
  • Meyers Directory of Genealogical Societies in the U.S.A. and Canada, 9th ed. Mt. Airy, Md.: M.K.Meyer, 1992 R 929.106 Mey (Reference Dept.) ( 6th ed., 1986 in Non-Fic)