Central Florida Genealogy Resource Guide
After you have written down all you know about your family, contact relatives for their information and maybe even pick a computer program so you can keep all your information organized. After you have talked to all living relatives, now it is time to start your outside research. Remember to work from the known to the unknown. Always place the most trust in primary records and documents and write down (or put in your genealogy program) all the sources you check, even if you do not find anything. In other words, if you check in a county for a birth record and find none, make a note of that so you don’t go looking in that same area again. Trust me, once you start gathering documents, you will forget where you’ve looked, so that is important. Primary records are the original documents (or copies) as opposed to secondary (compiled or transcribed) records. Secondary records can be used as clues to guide your research to find the primary records. Always check all possible sources. Good hunting!
Where do you go to start your research in Central Florida? The sections below should give you some ideas, and compliments of your fellow researchers in the Central Florida Genealogical Society.
For those starting out in genealogy or needing a refresher see our Genealogy 101 section that contains a Getting Started section along with links to useful forms and charts.
CFGS maintains a list of our past meetings with links to speakers, topics and websites that were discussed. These can be found on our General Meeting Notes and Computer Group Notes pages. In some cases an email link is provided for you to obtain additional information on a particular meeting or topic.
The genealogy collection of the Orange County Library is housed at the West Oaks Branch in Ocoee and is the Genealogy Center. Please check their blog for more information and updates. The Center is open 7 days a week, with plenty of free parking. A professional genealogist is on staff.
West Oaks Branch 1821 E. Silver Star Rd., Ocoee, FL 34761 (407) 835-7323 Location Map
This library has one of the finest genealogical collections in the Southeast and an online guide to the Genealogy Collection is available.
- Microfilms of the U. S. Federal Census from 1790 to 1930 and their extant printed indexes are available, along with the immigration indexes for New York, Philadelphia, Boston, New Orleans, Galveston, and Baltimore.
- Additional extensive print, microfilm and microfiche resources are available.
- In the book area, you will find most standard immigration indexes as well as substantial collections on most states, Canada, and the British Isles.
- There are also thousands of family and county histories in the book collection.
- Internet access to a variety of Genealogical resources is available, including a full subscription to all databases of AncestryPlus©, the library version of Ancestry.com, is available on all Internet computers on the 2nd floor, and at all OCLS branches. An OCLS library card or fee card is required for Internet access. A $10 PC pass good for up to 3 logins daily for 7 consecutive days is available for purchase for non-Orange County residents.
- Also, you may “Ask a Librarian” online or call QuestLine at 407-835-7640 with your Genealogy questions.
- Also online are Heritage Quest, which includes Revolutionary War Pension files, PERSI, Freedman Bureau records and US census records; and the Gale Genealogy Connect which includes over 500 reference e-books on genealogy-related topics. These are available at the library and from home through the Virtual Library.
- Genealogy classes are also held weekly, such as “Tracing Your Ancestors” and DNA, and information on these can be found on the CFGS Calendar or call the Library’s Genealogy Center at (407) 835-835-7323 for a schedule of classes and how to enroll.
- Genealogy Center Guide (PDF)
- Resources for African American Genealogyical Research (PDF)
- The Orlando Sentinel and its predecessors, the Orlando Reporter and the Orlando Star, are available on microfilm from 1907 until the present. An obituary index is available for 1949-1992. The Sentinel from 1985 to the present is available online through their Virtual Library (library Card required). (Orlando Sentinel recent Central Florida obituaries). These were not moved and remain in the downtown library.
- City Directories for Central Florida are also at the downtown library.
This library has “how to” books, Internet access (SCPL library card or fee required), and some Federal Records in the general collection that might be useful in specific cases. The Orlando Sentinel is available on microfilm from 1966 -1995, and the New York Times is on microfilm from 1940-1997. Online access to a variety of genealogical resources is available at all internet computers, including the library version of Ancestry.com, Heritagequest, America’s Genealogy Bank newspaper archive, and America’s Obituaries. All but Ancestry.com are also available through the library’s free Wi-Fi connection, or from home (with a SCPL library card). Select branches also offer free Genealogy 101 classes monthly from September through December. The Main Branch of the Library is located at 215 N. Oxford Rd., Casselberry, FL 32707. (407) 665-1500. Location Map
Seminole Branch libraries now have Genealogy 101 classes. Check out their website.
The majority of the genealogy holdings are held at the branches in Cocoa, Melbourne and Titusville. These three collections vary in size and content. AncestryPlus® is available at all Brevard County Libraries on their computers.
Central Brevard Public Library, 308 Forrest Ave., Cocoa, FL 32922 – (321) 633-1794, Holdings include:
- A large passenger list collection, New England, NC, SC, VA.
- Approximately 350 CD-ROM’s and 3,000 books.
- Various old local newspapers.
- Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps.
- Florida Vital Records Indexes covering Deaths, Divorces and Marriages.
- Brevard County Records Collection that include Brevard County deeds, marriages, probate, delayed births, naturalization and military discharge records.
- Also there are 1,500 volumes and other genealogy materials from Brevard Community College.
Melbourne Public Library, 540 E. Fee Ave., Melbourne, FL 32901 – (321) 952-4514
Their collection includes:
- The Melbourne City Hall collection.
- The Arlyn Gantz Michigan Collection.
- The Hartford Times Index.
- CD-ROM access.
- The complete set of The War of the Rebellion.
North Brevard Public Library, 2121 S. Hopkins Ave., Titusville, FL 32780 – (321) 254-5026 (maintained by volunteers) – Approximately 900 volumes
- American State Papers
- Papers of Continental Congress
- North Brevard Mortuary Indexes
- East Coast and Indian River Advocate 1890-1929
- 1830-1850 Florida Census
The UCF Library has limited resources for primary genealogical research. The historical collections of books and journals in the UCF Library may be of some interest to those seeking information about places and events. Genealogists will find the National Union Catalogue of Manuscripts and the printed card catalogue of the Library of Congress useful. It is available through the early 1980s. For local researchers, they have the Carey Hand Funeral Home records, 1891-1952. This is also a patent depository, with access on US and foreign patents. There are also extensive indexes of periodicals on the main campus of UCF, Alafaya Trail and University Blvd., (407) 823-2756. Some of the holdings, including Carey Hand records, are available online.
The University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) hosts more than 300 outstanding digital collections, containing over 8 million pages, covering over 78 thousand subjects in rare books, manuscripts, antique maps, children’s literature, newspapers, theses and dissertations, data sets, photographs, oral histories, and more for permanent access and preservation. Through UFDC, users have free and Open Access to full unique and rare materials held by the University of Florida and partner institutions. There are also some Orlando / Orange County Directories available online here.
The DeLand branch has considerable holdings on Florida and the Deland area. This collection is located on the second floor of the library, 130 E. Howry Ave. DeLand, FL 32724. (386) 822-6430. It includes:
- City directories from 1944-1994
- Local genealogies;
- Notebooks on local deaths from 1920 to 1978.
- Newspaper obits since 1986.
- Holdings for States in the Northeast
- The Pennsylvania Archives from 1871 to 1888.
- Massachusetts Revolutionary War Records.
- The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, 1847-1982.
- DAR lineage books.
- Census indexes from 1790 to 1850 for most states.
- The IGI through 1992 is available on microfiche.
- CD’s include the Family Tree Maker Master Index and the Social Security Death Index.
- They also have several major journals.
This is a small but growing collection that started with civil war and veterans records and grew with donations from individuals with roots mainly in the eastern United States. Printed passenger indexes are also available. This library is located at 211 E. Dakin Ave., Kissimmee, FL 34741 (407) 935-0777.
This library has some “how-to” books and has books on Winter Park history. They also maintain vertical files. This library is located at 460 E. New England Ave., Winter Park., FL 32789 (407) 623-3300.
FAMILY HISTORY CENTERS (FHC): The Family History Centers are operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons), these centers are free and open to all and give you access to the tremendous genealogical collection they have amassed at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. Volunteers staff the centers and hours vary. Each FHC has free access to Ancestry.com, Fold3, MyHeritage.com, Find My Past, Newspaper Archive, and other commercial genealogical websites. Some FHCs like the one on Par Ave. in Orlando periodically offer free classes. You may also order microfilms from FamilySearch.org and have them sent to a Family History Center so you can view them. Verify schedules as they may change.
The Family History Centers are a part of FamilySearch website which provides access to the Library catalog as well as online access to millions of records. The “Get Started” area of the website offers classes, advice, and a Wiki for information on all genealogical subjects. Utilizing the free registration for the site is recommended.
- DeLand FHC 1345 Aquarius Avenue, Deland, FL 32724 (386) 822-9695
- Daytona Beach FHC 1125 6th St, Holly Hill, Florida 32117 (386) 257-9223
- Clermont FHC, 14600 Green Valley Blvd, Clermont, FL 34711 (352) 242-6363
- Cocoa FHC 1801 South Fiske Blvd., Rockledge, Florida 32955 (321) 636-2431
- Leesburg FHC 1875 Mt Vernon Rd, Leesburg, Florida 34748 (352) 787-5050
- Orlando FHC 45 E Par St., Orlando, FL 32804 (407) 895-4832
- Orlando Hunters Creek FHC 701 Wetherbee Rd., Orlando, Florida 32824 (407) 826-8970
- Orlando South FHC 3001 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd., Orlando, Florida 32825 (407) 876-8135
ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER: Located in the restored 1927 Orange County Courthouse, the history center uses artifacts, exhibits, educational classes, re-enactments and multi-media shows to present the historical development of Central Florida. Location: 65 E. Central Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32801, across the street from the OCLS Main Branch. Phone: 407-836-8500 or Toll-Free: 800-965-2030
The Joseph Brechner Research Center is located on the 5th floor of the Regional History Center. There is an online guide to the genealogical collection. Appointments are encouraged, but not required. The stacks are closed, so materials must be requested. Informing the staff of the materials you plan to use will allow them to be ready for your visit.
THE SANFORD HISTORICAL SOCIETY: The purpose of the Society is to foster interest in the preservation of information and artifacts related to the history of Sanford and the surrounding area. The museum was established in 1957 as a memorial to the city’s founder, Henry Shelton Sanford. The museum was expanded in 1974 and again in 1994 to allow for the collection and exhibition of items of local historical interest. Today the museum collects and exhibits historical material relating to the development of Sanford from its earliest times to the present day. The museum’s collections include a local history archive, a Sanford photograph collection, a reference library covering the history of Central Florida, the Henry Shelton Sanford Papers, a 19th-century decorative art collection, local business ephemera, and a local sports collection. The Sanford Museum is located in Fort Mellon Park at 520 E. First Street, Sanford, FL 32772. (407) 688-5198. Hours: Tues-Fri: 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Sat: 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Their website has a listing of local cemeteries and prominent names from local newspapers.
CFGS Special Interest Group Meeting Notes:
NOTE! All of our SIG meetings are held at the LDS Meetinghouse at 45 East Par St. in Orlando. 32804.
CFGS holds a number of informal meetings for members and visitors alike each month to discuss specific issues of interest on the topic of the group. In most cases We collect notes on the topics discussed during these meetings and publish them here on our website. A link to these notes (where available) is under each group below. In some cases the note are published as a PDF file but in other cases there are in an article format. All are grouped by the date of the meeting.
Genealogy Computer Interest Group Meeting Notes
The Genealogy Computer Interest Group is not currently meeting. However, notes generated from over 10 years of these meetings are posted here.
Irish Special Interest Group
The meetings of the Irish Special Interest Group are generally held on the 3rd Saturday of each month from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. This group is dedicated to those wanting to know more about Irish research, and those with all levels of expertise are invited to participate. Notes from past meetings will be posted here.
German Special Interest Group
The meetings of the German Special Interest Group are held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This group is dedicated to those wanting to know more about German genealogy research, and all levels of expertise are invited to participate. Past meeting notes are here.
England Special Interest Group
The England Special Interest Group is not currently meeting.
Scottish Special Interest Group TBA
The Scottish Special Interest Group is not currently meeting.
Regular Meeting Notes
Prior to 2013 notes and handouts were kept for our general evening meetings and sometimes our daytime meetings. Those notes are available here. There are over 10 years of these notes. From 2014 on, these notes and handouts are available to our logged-in members under our CFGS Community.
March 2017 German SIG Notes
2017 Roots Magic SIG Notes
Question: When can I finally sync my Ancestry Tree with my RootsMagic Tree?
Reply: When it is stable and ready for release. Renee, RootsMagic
Genealogy Gems is running a series on Inherited Genealogy Files by Amie Bowser Tennant. In this series, she is using RootsMagic as an example.
- GEDCOM File (What is It & How to Use This Genealogy File)
- Tackling Your Inherited Genealogy Files: Merging Duplicates
- Inherited Genealogy Files: Adding Source Citations to an Inherited Family Tree
This is an advanced tool
SQLite Tools for RootsMagic! – This wiki style site is intended to enhance our use of RootsMagic 4 and above with queries and reports not provided from within the program. RootsMagic 4 through 7 use SQLite 3 as their database engine so the .rmgc database files each creates are readable using third party SQLite management and development tools.
In order to save your file for use with the RootsMagic to Go app, use File –> Save to Dropbox for App
Additional Florida Websites and Resources
- Orange Co. FL GenWeb (managed by CFGS member Rob Fisher)
- Florida US GenWeb
- Ancestry.com’s Florida State Resource Guide
- Linkpendium has many links to genealogy resources in Orange and Seminole Counties but also for Florida, the USA and the World.
- Cyndi’s List-Florida
- FamilySearch Wiki-Florida
- Office of Vital Statistics, Dept. of Health Data Request
- Florida State Genealogical Society
- Florida State Archives
- Florida State University Special Collections
- University of Miami Manuscript and Archival Collections
- University of South Florida Special Collections & Archives
- Riley House/Tallahassee Community College Archives
- Florida Atlantic University Libraries Special Collections
- University of Florida Special and Area Studies Collection
- University of Miami, Cuban Heritage Collections
Office of Vital Statistics, Dept. of Health
P.O. Box 210
1217 Pearl Street
Jacksonville, FL 32231-0042
Florida State Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 10249
Tallahassee, Florida 32302
(407) 494-FSGS (3747)
Florida State Archives
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0250
Florida State University Special Collections
600 W. College Avenue
Tallahassee, FL 32306
University of Miami Manuscript and Archival Collections
1300 Memorial Drive, 8th Floor
Coral Gables, Florida 33146
University of South Florida Special Collections & Archives
140 7th Avenue South St.
Petersburg Florida 33701
Riley House/Tallahassee Community College Archives
444 Appleyard Dr.
Tallahassee, FL 32304
Florida Atlantic University Libraries Special Collections
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33431
University of Florida Special and Area Studies Collection
P.O. Box 117005
208 Smathers Library
Gainesville, FL 32611-7005
University of Miami, Cuban Heritage Collections
1300 Memorial Drive, 8th Floor
Coral Gables, Florida 33146