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From the Green Valley News, Sunday 13 April 2008, page B7

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

Using HeritageQuest Online

In conversation with a new Green Valley resident, I was reminded that one of our Pima County Public Library’s best kept secrets is the genealogy database, HeritageQuest (HQ). When the library first offered this database, a link was prominently featured on the library’s home page.

Today access to HeritageQuest is by a more circuitous route and a new library user may not stumble on it accidentally. Access the library’s home page, Click on Databases and Online Collections in the left column. Next click on Biographies and Genealogy, then on the link to HeritageQuest Genealogy database.

Enter your 14 digit library card number and your personal PIN number. From the HQ home page, choose one the databases: Census, Books, PERSI, Revolutionary War Pension & Bounty Land Applications, Freedman’s Bank Records, or U.S. Serial Set.

Probably the most popular option is the U.S. Census images. To help with your census search HeritageQuest has digitized The Census Book by William S. Dollarhide. To access the book, on the Census search page click Browse and ?Help with the Federal Census. A pop up window displays the book’s Index. If Adobe Acrobat Reader is not installed on your computer, use the download link in order to read the file. The book can be read online, printed in its entirety or by page number desired.

The census years 1830, 1840 and 1850 are not indexed on HeritageQuest, and only the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Texas, and Virginia are indexed for 1930. The years 1830 through 1850 can be browsed if you know the state, county, and town where your family lived, but by 1930 the U.S. population of over 122 million makes browsing nearly impossible.

The Revolutionary War database includes selected records from pension files, usually ten pages or less that the abstracter deemed genealogically important. If you find your ancestor here you will probably want to obtain the entire pension file as some files contain over a hundred pages. Pension files may be ordered online at

The latest addition to HeritageQuest, the United States Congressional Serial Set, covers the years 1789-1969 including Private Relief Actions, Memorials, and Petitions by private citizens as well as content from the American State Papers. This is a valuable database formerly very difficult to search and available only at the National Archives.

Another database unique to HQ is The Freedman’s Bank file. The bank, established in 1865 in Washington, DC for the benefit of freed slaves, had thirty-three branches by 1870. The bank’s registers record name of the depositor, and often the birth place, residence, age, complexion, name of employer, occupation, and names of other family members. If a death certificate was attached to the original papers, it has also been filmed.

HeritageQuest is an important research tool for genealogists, and thanks to our Pima County Public Library system, we can use it free of charge. [Since I wrote this article at the beginning of March, the library added "Genealogy" to the path making HQ a bit easier to find.]

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