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“Gem in the Museum District” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research

Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research
5300 Caroline St, Houston, TX 77004-6896
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Ranked #80 of 450 things to do in Houston
Attraction details
Houston, Texas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Gem in the Museum District”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 10, 2013

The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research is one of three special collection libraries within the Houston Public Library system. With that said, it is a genealogy library, and most archival collections relating to area history are located at the Houston Metropolitan Research Center downtown.

As far as genealogy goes, Clayton has pretty much everything that every other major genealogy collection has, and more. There is something for every kind of researcher. For the serious researcher, the Clayton has items such as Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations and the Papeles Procedentes de Cuba (Cuban Papers) on microfilm. There are many finding aids to the special collections on microfilm not found anywhere else. In addition, there are the usual online subscriptions for researchers who want to drive half way across the country to type a name into a computer screen. Also, Clayton has a partnership with the LDS Family History Library that enables patrons to order microfilm on loan (short-term or permanent) from the LDS catalog to be viewed at Clayton. So, mostly anything not in the library can be obtained one way or another. Many genealogy libraries do not have the LDS affiliation and those who want to view LDS film have to go to an LDS church viewing site. The LDS viewing site at Clayton is located on site. All of these resources, when used to COMPLEMENT each other, make Clayton one of the best genealogy research centers in the United States.

They are used to accommodating out-of-town visitors, also. There is a separate snack area with vending machines, a smoking patio, restrooms on each floor, elevators, and adequate parking. Not to mention its location within the museum district and located on the light rail line.

The only semi-negative review I can see here is the individual who said that Dallas had more family histories. Although family histories are a great starting point, there is an understanding among serious researchers that most of them are rather unreliable, so this specific critique indicates what kind of researcher the reviewer is. Just because you have done something for a long time doesn't necessarily mean you are good at it. Family histories are typically produced by an individual after decades of hard work, often independently published, and donated to genealogy libraries. Then, other "genealogists" come in and just copy the work of those individuals instead of conducting the arduous process of doing the primary research themselves.

As one well-known genealogical research guide defines genealogy: "Genealogy: That branch of history which involves the determination of family relationships. This is not done by copying but rather by research"(Val D. Greenwood, 2000, p. 3).

Visited July 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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6 reviews from our community

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English first
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
“Not worth a special trip”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 28, 2013 via mobile

As a long time, experienced genealogist, I had heard nothing but raves about the Clayton. I planned a special trip to do research there. I was underwhelmed.

Having done research at both the Dallas and Fort Worth genealogy libraries, I can say the Clayton is no better than these, and in some areas lacking. Dallas has a much larger family histories collection.

I do like the states/counties shelved alphabetically for ease (Ft Worth should do this), but otherwise it does not live up to it's reputation. Research here if you're already going to be in the area. Don't spend the extra effort for a special trip.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
9 attraction reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
“Clayton Library is great”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 15, 2012

Clayton Library is one of the best genealogical libraries in the United States. They have in their collection all the actual rolls of microfilm for every US census taken between 1790 and 1930. They have thousands of books on every state in the US (cemeteries, local histories, early marriages, land sales, probate records, etc). Since Clayton is a city library they also have access to materials in other libraries across the US, through interlibrary loan.

The staff is extremely helpful, if you are a beginner or an advanced genealogist. They can help you when you get stuck for the next place to research. Since it is part of the Houston Public Library system it is also FREE. They have access to online databases that cost an individual hundreds of dollars a year and these are also free to the patrons who visit.

Regardless of your level of research Clayton is well worth the trip, make that trips.

Visited June 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Katy (Houston), TX
Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Great genealogical resource”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2012

I treat myself to a visit a couple of times a year. It's nice to hold an actual book of facts I need instead of just looking them up online. Plus, there are a lot of resources you can't see online - you have to either check out a book or go to the library. Some of the books you want aren't available to be sent to a local library so we're lucky here in Houston to have access to so many books, maps, microfilm, etc. I'm told this is either the best or second best genealogical library in the country. They often have people there to help you with your research, too. Sometimes other patrons will volunteer to help you! I like to go straight to the section that's set out by state as often that's the way genealogist's search - at least the amateurs that I know search that way! In a beautiful area of the museum district with ample parking.

Visited January 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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