Friday, November 18, 2011

The Wacky World of the Internet Archive

There are oodles of war records at the Internet Archvie

The Internet Archive is a wonderful-yet-peculiar hodgepodge of digital materials, including many thousands of items under the heading, Genealogy.

You'll find a little bit of everything here. Census records, military musters, court filings, ship manifests, old newspapers, family histories, vital records...etc, etc.

Some of the material is full-text searchable, some of it is image only. I haven't found a single comprehensive index of what's available, and the materials themselves aren't always well-described. Here's the master list of the available genealogy categories:

  • United States Census -- 23,614 items
  • Records of military units in volunteer Confederate organizations -- 536 items
  • Records of military units in volunteer Union organizations -- 225 items
  • Eastern Cherokee applications of the U.S. Court of Claims -- 348 items
  • Family Genealogies -- 1,805 items
  • Family History Book Collection -- 436 items
  • Passenger and Crew Vessel Lists for New York, NY 1897-1957 -- 7,128 items
  • Passenger Lists of Vessels for Baltimore and Philadelphia 636 items
  • Passengers arriving in the St. Albans, VT District 1,027 items
  • Passport Applications, 1795-1905 - 694 items
  • Records of the Cotton Bureau, Confederate War Department 53 items
  • Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands -- 453 items
  • Records relating to War of 1812 -- 454 items
  • Registers of Births -- 3,139 items
  • Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards 2,544 items
  • United States Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes -- 494 items
  • War Records -- 44 items

There are some unusual materials here, including several Indian and African-American histories.  And don't think these are all U.S. materials as there are quite a number of resources from other countries and in several non-English languages.

This is a resource to browse and explore. Your odds are pretty good that you'll come across something that's relevant to your own family history quest.

If you find a needle in the Internet Archive haystack, let us know by leaving a comment. 

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Don't forget to also check for your family history at Ancestry.com and  NewspaperArchive. These are subscription databases, but they are among the most powerful research tools available for looking into family roots.