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. 


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