It is important to understand the nature of the records you will be working with and the rules governing their use at archival repositories or libraries. Most archival repositories will not let you check out archival materials, but in most cases photocopies of records can be generated for a fee. Libraries and archives will generally have resources that assist you in searching their numerous collections, such as finding aids (descriptive inventories) for archival collections.
It is also important to know the history of the organization or state where you will be researching. For example, Alaska was purchased from the Russian Empire in 1867, it became a U.S. Territory in 1912 and a state in 1959. Most U.S. records will not start until at least 1867. Jurisdictional Districts in Alaska were created between 1897 and 1901, the first territorial censuses for Alaska were taken in 1870 and 1880, and the first federal census was taken in 1900. According to privacy laws, census records are only available to the public 70 years after they were taken. Thus as of 2010, available census records for Alaska are for the years of 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940.
For researches interested in information on Alaska Native birth, death, and marriage records, in some instances these can be found at the Alaska State Archives, which contains official state records of Alaska. This repository also stores historic church, school, court, and other state records of interest to genealogists. Overall, the Alaska State Archives has a large and impressive collection of records and it is best to visit the archive in person to inquire about their collection holdings. The Alaska State Archives does, however, host a website specifically tailored to assist genealogists with research, which can be found by clicking here.
The Alaska State Library seeks to collect materials that document all aspects of Alaska life, and the library is a great place for genealogical resources. The library contains runs of all Alaska newspapers, most in microfilm format, which can be viewed by the public. This includes some rare Southeast Alaska Native periodicals, such as the Voice of Brotherhood, The Tlingit Herald, The Thlinget, and others. In some cases books about Alaska and certain Alaska towns will contain information of great value to genealogy researchers. A record of all books available in the United States can be found at worldcat.org and if the local libraries do not own a specific book you desire, books can often be loaned to you though a local library (referred to as an Inter-Library Loan). The library also maintains a webpage to assist those conducting genealogical research, which can be viewed by clicking here.
The Alaska State Library's Historical Collections Division seeks to collect materials that document all aspects of Alaskan life, but this department specifically stores the library's rare books and archival collections. They may have collections of interest about specific Alaska Native individuals, such as in the Tlingit Indian Genealogy Notes and Information Collection, or the AJ Mine Personnel Index which includes the ethnicity, age, birth place, and parents or spouse of a person working in the mine. Information about visiting the Historical Collections Division can be found by clicking here.
The Sealaska Heritage Institute seeks to collect materials that document the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people. We have some collections on specific individuals that may concern a family member or their role in a specific event or organization, such as the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood, as well as records documenting the land claims struggle which are found in our Curry-Weissbrodt Records Collection. We also have certain Southeast Alaska Native newspaper runs, including Voice of Brotherhood, The Thlinget, Yahkii, and Haa koosteeyee aye¡, as well as books on Southeast Alaska Native history and life. Contact us to inquire about researching at our facility, and about donating genealogical resources to our library.