Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
This 'n That on the Web
So much is happening in the online genealogy world it's hard to keep up. Last month I wrote about locating vital records. Now I've become aware of a comprehensive site compiling vital records information for every state in the Union. Maintained by the federal government's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, it's found at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/w2w.htm and appears to be timely as it was last updated July 1, 2010.
Links here to each state include: How to obtain birth, death, marriage and divorce records, cost of copies, relevant addresses, and remarks such as inception date of records. This can be your one-stop site for all you need to know about locating U.S. vital records.
FamilySearch has announced another milestone. Online volunteers have indexed a whopping 100 million records already this year and are on target to complete 200 million by the end of the year. Researchers can search the completed indexes and images at http://pilot.familysearch.org. If you haven't visited the site for awhile, you may be surprised to discover some of its treasures. More volunteers are always needed - particularly on international, non-English projects.
Not so many years ago, if you wanted a particular genealogy book, you either had to buy it or visit a library to use it. Often the library was far away and required a costly trip. Today many out-of-copyright books are found on the Internet Archive at www.archive.org and all are available free. Use the "Texts" tab at the top of the page to search books.
Books stored on The Internet Archive are searchable by word or phrase, either online and/or after being downloaded. Some books are in TXT format (easily searched), others in PDF format. They are scanned by OCR (optical character recognition) a method that unfortunately never converts all words perfectly so watch for obvious errors in the text.
Libraries such as Allen County Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana and Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library have contributed many digitized genealogy books to The Internet Archive. Private individuals may also scan public domain books from their personal libraries and upload them as well.
The Archive has scanned and digitized U.S. census records from 1790 through 1930; however they are not indexed so you need to know where your search target was living. Smaller localities can easily be searched page by page in a short time.
Another interesting feature is millions of documents scanned from over 350,000 federal court cases, now freely available here to the public. I haven't tried to use this source so cannot gauge its usefulness. It seems you would need to know what you seek, not just perform blind searches.
The Internet Archive, often called "The Wayback Machine," also offers permanent access to out-of-date websites that are no longer found in their original locations on the web, a real help when you're trying to find a site you visited some time ago.
Another website that continues to grow is the American Memory project at The Library of Congress. See the home page at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html. While there is not a specific link for genealogy, many of the collected groups contain genealogically relevant material. Included are books, maps, photographs, films, etc. This site is especially useful for historical content to flesh out an ancestor's story in the context of his time.
If you have a favorite website, please send the link to me and I may feature it in a future column.
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6 August 2010
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