Friday, November 18

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.

Tuesday, August 30

Limited Time Offer...Free Access to (Some of) Ancestry.com



It's not like me to reproduce a press release, but I'll make an exception in this case, since it comes from Ancestry.com and offers (briefly!) some free access to an important genealogy tool.  So, without further ado...



ANCESTRY.COM OFFERS FREE ACCESS
TO IMMIGRATION AND NATURALIZATION RECORDS

Week of Free Access Enables Families
to Discover Stories of Ancestors
International Travels and Passage

PROVO, UTAH  (August 29, 2011)  Ancestry.com, the world?s largest online family history resource, today announced an entire week of free access to its popular U.S. and International Immigration and Naturalization records. The free access week begins August 29th and runs through the Labor Day holiday ending September 5th. During this time, all visitors to Ancestry.com will be able to search for free the indices and images of new and updated U.S. immigration records as well as selected international immigration records from the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Australia, Canada, Germany, Sweden and Mexico. Millions of Americans can trace their family history to other countries, and these collections provide valuable information about the travels and journeys that brought them to America or other countries around the world.

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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.

Sunday, December 12

Tracking Down Veterans

The VA can help track down veterans.

A veteran may be the key to unlocking some of your family history. Perhaps a soldier is a long-last family member. Or a veteran may have served with your grandfather, father, brother or uncle (or grandmother, mother, sister or aunt) and have information that can help fill in the details of your family tree.

The problem, of course, is finding a veteran whose name doesn't show up in the phone book or any other of the usual people-find resources.

The Department of Veterans Affairs can help! Write a letter to the veteran you want to contact. Then write a seperate note to the VA explaining who you want to contact -- name, branch (Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force), unit and any other information you have. If they have an address on file, Veterans  Affairs will forward your letter to the veteran in question.

With luck, the soldier gets back in touch with you, and your investigation begins.

P.S. And, of course, you can use this to find buddies you served with, even if genealogy isn't the reason.

Intelius - Public Records Information

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.

Wednesday, November 17

The History of Housekeeping


Family Saying Grace, by Anthonius Claeissins

Old & Interesting is a not very old website, but it is rather interesting.

It bills itself as a site about the "history of domestic paraphernalia". It is all about how people have kept house through the ages, using everyday items that we now think of as antiques, if we think of them at all.

If you want to build a mental picture of how your ancestors cooked, cleaned themselves, cleaned their clothes, cleaned their homes, made the beds, kept warm, and stored food then this is the site for you.

There's a whole page on the History of Ironing Boards!

And if you're interested in historical oddities, like cooking without fire or 14th century baby walkers, then you'll also find Old & Interesting an informative and entertaining site.

Even if it's just to explore some of the wonderful images and uncluttered prose, this site is well-worth a good explore.



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.

Friday, November 12

Historical State Census Records

Some sort of strange census machine
 (photo courtesy of Marcin Wichary, CC-BY)

I'm guessing that the plural of census is either the awkward-sounding censuses or the pretentious-sounding censii, but I'm too lazy to look it up, so I'll just roll with census records.

There are a ton and a half of state census records available online, mostly name searchable and all free of charge. Some records go back right to the days when the state was first settled, others focus on particular sub-populations like Indians or war widows and, of course, many are general census records for the entire population.

Without further ado:

The Kansas Historical Society Name Index includes the 1895 state census, and a bunch of other good stuff, including a directory, of sorts, of pioneer women.

The Maryland State Archives Census Indexes cover 1776, 1778, 1870 and 1880, with straighforward name lookups.

The Idaho State Historical Society houses the oddly-named Idaho non-population census for 1870 and 1880 which recorded workers in specific industries, along with 1890 Idaho state census. These are PDFs that you can download and search. You'll find a lot of Chinese names here, reflecting the immigrant workers in the mining industry.

Minnesota seems very keen on census-taking, as the Minnesota State Census Index includes records from ten censuses/censii between 1849 and 1905. Your online search provides preliminary information, and you can then order a full copy of the census record for a fee.

The Washington State census collection has a zillion online censuses from 1847-1910, but that's because they're listed by county. Happily, you can search them all at once at the Digital Archives Search.

New Jersey's online archives have some very cool records, including the N.J. 1885 Census and a very unusual tabulation of 100 years of legal name changes...how often do you see that!


The North Dakota State University Archives includes the Dakota Territory 1885 Census where you can look up names and order census copies. Take a look at the other databases available on the left side of the page.

Search the Colorado Census of 1870, which is actually the excerpt from the federal census. There are quite a number of other historical records here as well.


There are doubtless online census records in other states as well, but this is as far as I've gotten in cataloging them. Stay tuned for future updates...



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.