About Us

History of the The Genealogical Research Library

Our library was incorporated in Canada in 1981, although indexing techniques, the collection of rare maps, and collection of details about ancestors around the world had been underway by our founder since the 1970's. Canada was the natural choice to begin such an undertaking, since the United Nations recently declared Canada to be the most multi-ethnic country in the world.

In 1977 we published the Family Tree Kit, which helped more than a million people to begin researching their family tree. An International Edition of the Kit quickly followed, expanding research capabilities beyond North America and into Europe.

In 1984, a 3-volume set of books was released, called The People of Ontario 1600 - 1900. This set of books was warmly received by libraries, archives, genealogical societies and researchers throughout Canada and the United States. It was the first province-wide directory of its kind ever published.

During the so-called Cold War period, we were the only institution in Canada allowed to receive books from the former Soviet Union in an exchange program offered by the Lenin State Library in Moscow, Russia (now known as the Russian State Library, or Российская государственная библиотека). This exchange program gave us a taste for wanting to share our research interests on a more global basis. It inspired our founder to "dream big".

In 1991, the GRL released a monumental 3-volume set of books called The French Canadians 1600-1900, followed shortly thereafter with a French-language edition, Les canadiens français 1600-1900. These books listed hundreds of thousands of French and Acadian ancestors, together with a bibliography of source documents and an index to places that existed in the past and present, with name changes.

In rapid succession over the next three years the GRL library published 3 more sets of books covering the rest of Canada. Each title consisted of 3 volumes: The Atlantic Canadians 1600-1900, The Central Canadians 1600-1900 and The Western Canadians 1600-1900.

These books were rapidly followed by extensive indexing of records to create databases for Alaska, New York City Tennessee, Connecticut and Missouri. Several of these databases are in regular use today on two major American websites.

During the same period, we took several rare books from Poland, Hungary and New England and published them as improved reprints, as well as creating searchable databases for Poland and Hungary.

These reference books enabled researchers to find ancestors who could previously only be found by looking through hundreds of different books and documents. Libraries, universities, societies and genealogists throughout North America quickly absorbed all the inventory.

The GRL library was constantly inundated with requests for research help, and so for a period of 7 years, the library opened its doors to the public so that the original documents could be viewed firsthand. By 1999 it became obvious that other methods would have to be found to handle the public's appetite for genealogical research and information. 

By 2000, the GRL library's work was becoming recognized on a much wider scale. More and more people came to view the GRL as a primary source of Canadian and American genealogical data.

By this time, it became obvious that only the world-wide web or internet would allow the continuous publishing of the GRL's databank in a digital format. This drew to a close the expensive publishing of hard-cover books, since it was now possible to make millions of records available instantly and globally at a fraction of the original publishing cost. In recent years an enormous effort was undertaken to bring this vision into a reality.

We also realized that there were thousands of other websites with valuable information, besides our own. Rather than compete, we decided 5 years ago to find a way of cooperating to promote these websites globally, and to make research easier for people, whether they were beginners, or professional genealogists. We strongly believe that cooperation - not competition - is the key to making information available to the widest number of people, at very little cost.

In April of 2009, we were finally able to launch our global gateway to thousands of other websites around the world in addition to our own. We re-launched grlresearch.com in an entirely new format where we could gather together research resources using our unique "switchboard" design. The majority of the "other" websites we link to, are free to search. Together these free websites around the world greatly exceed the information obtainable any other way. For the cost of a lunch or movie, our members can search in more than 100 countries for a full month As well as searching the world swiftly and easily, members also have access to a virtual library of rare books online - digital books or "eBooks" as they are called.  Many of these books would have cost a small fortune for the original edition.

In July and August of 2009 we began adding antique maps to our website from our collection of more than 10,000 maps acquired over decades. This brings rare maps into the hands of all our members. Many of these antique maps have been greatly enlarged through modern technology. It's as if you are looking at a map through a magnifying glass.  

History, Genealogy & Geography, all under one roof, is the objective, and the driving force behind our vision. We invite you to share this vision with us.

Come and see for yourself - here is your Gateway to people who lived in the past, as well as people living today. We are growing during a recession, and for very good reasons. There is no other equivalent website anywhere in the world, and there has never been a better time to join and grow with us.

2016 major change: Our resources are now part of Global Research Library. Our new website is www.edu.global





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