Archive for category Free Genealogy Resources

Free Newspaper Archives – Online and Offline

Posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 18 March, 2012

Finding your ancestors in newspapers can be very rewarding. You can find birth announcements, marriage announcements and obituaries. However, you can find out so much more than just vital statistics. Perhaps your ancestor had a run in with a dog when she was a little girl or perhaps your ancestor kept giving the police a hard time when he drank too much. Read more about what you can find out using newspapers for genealogy .

Where can you find newspapers archives? A large number of newspaper archives are on-line, many of them are free. Rather than create a large list of links to on-line newspapers, I’ve provided a small list of websites which have a large collection of newspaper links. In addition, I’ve provided some Google search ideas and examples to find newspapers where your ancestor came from.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has an on-going project called Chronicling America. In their on-line digital collection there are more than 700 different newspapers, from about 25 different states and the District of Columbia.

One of the neat things about the Library of Congress project Chronicling America is that it goes beyond just digital collections. The library of Congress has been tracing down the locations of all known newspapers in the United States which were published from 1690. I was unaware of any newspapers published from my small town of Oxford, Connecticut but I took a look using their search engine. There were two newspapers published in Oxford. When you click on the results which come up, it will tell you where the newspapers are currently located. In my case both newspapers are currently located at the Connecticut State Library.

Wikipedia:List of online newspaper archives

Wikipedia has gathered a tremendous amount of newspaper archive links. There are newspaper archives from almost every state and the District of Columbia. If you are looking for foreign newspapers there are more than 40 countries listed including Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland and France.

Some of the newspaper archives listed on Wikipedia you will have to pay for but many are available for free. If you do some digging some of the newspapers they indicate as having to pay for you can get for free. Wikipedia lists the Hartford Courant Newspaper archives as a pay site. Since I live here in Connecticut and have a library card, I can get access to this for free at Iconn.org .

Cindi’s List – Newspapers

Everyone who’s done a lot of genealogy knows about Cindi’s List. Cindi’s list has a tremendous amount of links pointing to newspapers of today as well as archives. There are more than 500 links to newspapers of yesterday and today on the site.

Where Else Can You Find Newspaper Archives?

If you haven’t found a newspaper that you’re looking for in any of the sites listed above it’s time to do some Google searching. Many state libraries have digital collections which include newspapers. Let’s look for some newspapers from the state of Wisconsin. Using Google I looked for “wisconsin state library newspapers”. At the top of the search was not the Wisconsin State Library’s website but an entry for the Wisconsin Historical Society. They have more than 11,000 bound volumes and 100,000 reels of microfilm. It doesn’t seem like any of these are on-line, but it can help you plan a research trip.

Going back to the results from the Google search we did for “wisconsin state library newspapers” you will notice a number of other results which are good candidates for websites which have Wisconsin Newspapers. One of those was BadgerLink . If you happen to live in Wisconsin and have a library card you can get access to the on-line collections. You can scroll through the other search results to see if there are any more useful sites which come up.

Let’s try a different approach now to find additional newspapers. Many large universities have a good deal of newspaper collections. Let’s do a Google search for “university of georgia newspaper archives”. The top result when I ran this query was University of Georgia Libraries . It doesn’t appear any of the newspapers here are on-line but this is another good tool to plan a research trip.

Going back to the Google results from “university of georgia newspaper archives”, there was a result for Digital Collection of Georgia . This website contains a number of on-line searchable newspapers from Georgia. Some of the newspapers in this collection were published as early as 1808.

The possibilities of forming a Google Search for newspaper archives are nearly endless. I’ve found many newspapers relative to the area I was looking in by searching for Libraries, Historical Societies and Universities from the area. The best results I had was when I includes “newspaper archive” in my searches. Below are some examples for searching.

  • Connecticut State Library Newspaper Archive
  • Florida State Historical Society Newspaper Archive
  • University of Tennessee Newspaper Archive

When you’re forming your search around an area, you can substitute the town, city or county instead of the state. If you know the large universities from the area, you can specify the “(university name) newspaper archives”.

Take the time now to find a newspaper from where your ancestor lived. Search for your ancestors in newspapers and you will be rewarded with stories you could never get from just names and dates. Even if you don’t find your ancestors in the newspapers you can read about the happenings in their town which certainly influenced their lives.

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NewspaperArchive.com

Newspaper Archive search at Genealogy Bank

Thrifty Thursday – Georgia Death Certificates

Posted by Jim Sanders on Thursday, 15 March, 2012

Do you have relatives who lived in Georgia? If so, you may be in luck. Georgia has a fantastic website containing digital copies of primary records. One such record collection is the Georgia Death Certificate.

Georgia Death Certificate 1919-1927

I found my wife’s ancestor Joseph Dallas Poole listed in this database. He died on 12-Feb-1920. As with any database you may need to be creative to find your ancestor. Joseph Dallas Poole was indexed as Dale Pool.

Free Genealogy Databases

Posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 4 March, 2012

Free Family Research and Genealogy Databases

With shows like “Who Do You Think You Are?” and others, there’s been an increase in the number of people looking into their family tree. Some of these shows make it look easy even though they go through the proper family research to dot all the i’s and cross the t’s. I wonder how much family research is done prior to meeting the guest star. My guess would be at leasy 60-80 hours of research in archives, not counting travel time is required by researchers to produce each show. This is just my own guess not based upon any scientific estimation process.

Shows like this make me wonder how many free genealogy databases are out there for you to do real family research? Do these genalogy databases have access to digitalized original records? This post will explore various free genealogy database as well as to go through a process to find genelaogy databases which are of interest to you.

First, there are many subscription based genealoogy databases out there today. Did you know that most of these provide a free trial offer? Each genealogy database listed below has a free trial offer (at least when this post was written they did). If you try these offers back to back, you’ll have more than a month of free access to some of the best geenalogy database out there today. Each has it’s own strengths. These offers are subject to change by the individual website.

Ancestry

No discussion of free genealogy databases would be complete without talking about ancestry.com. I know many of you may be saying at this point that ancestry. com is a paid subscription site and you would be correct. However, you can Try Ancestry.com FREE with a 14-Day Free Trial. Just remember to can trial if you really don’t want to sign up. Also, there are other ways to use ancestry.com for free. There are always some databases and indexes which are available for free and ancestry.com opens up some databases for short periods of time for free. Local and State Libraries may also have a paid subscription to the library edition of ancestry.com/ If this is the case, you’ll be able to use ancestry.com for free, you’ll just have to go to the library.

Archives

One more major company which has genealogy databases to use for free is Archives.com. They offer a free seven day trial. They offer many of the same data you might get at other subscription website including the census. They also indicate they have a wdie selection of newspapers. As with all paid subscription sites, if you want to use only the free trial period, make sure you cancel the subscription before any charges are made.

One Great Family

One Great Family database is unlike the other major databasese. OneGreatFamily offers a free seven day trial. One great family has a large collection of family trees within it’s databases. It attempts to combine the trees of all of it’s members into one big family tree. This can be a great aid if you’re looking to connect with other researchers.

Fold3

If you are looking for original military records there’s no better place to go than Fold3. They offer a free seven day trial. This website offers military records from virtually every American War since the Revolutionary War. You can find service records, pension records and more.

World Vital Records

Another major company which has genealogy databases to use for free is WorldVitalRecords.com. They offer a free seven day trial. This database has a wide selection of vital records including birth, marriage and death. As with all paid subscription sites, if you want to use only the free trial period, make sure you cancel the subscription before any charges are made.

Summary of Free Trial Offers

Ancestry.com – 14 days
Archives.com – 7 days
OneGreatFamily – 7 days
Fold3 - 7 days
WorldVitalRecords.com – 3 days

Family Search

No talk about free genealogy database can be complete without discussing www.familysearch.org . The Mormons have the largest collection of vital records from everyone around the world. They have these records stored within their climate controlled vaults in Utah. Indexes to many of these records have been put on-line and many more are currently being inded. In addition to the indexes, some of the some of the original images also are displated when you find a record which matches your search criteria and you click on that record.

Heritage Quest

Heritage Quest is another free database which has digital copies of the census records, revolutionary war pension and bounty records and so much more. In order to use Heritage Quest, you’re going to have to find a library which offers it. Here in Connecticut, our state library system has it on-line through www.iconn.org and you can use it from the comfort of your own home. You will have to have a libary card from any of the libraries in the state of Connecticut in order to sign in and use it.

Finding other relevant genealogy databases

There’s such an explosion of what you might find on-line in terms of digitalized documents you never know what you might find. Google is a great way to discover what other free information might be out there. For example, I know my wife’s ancestor Joseph Dallas Pool(e) was from Georgia and likely died there. I tried a Google search of “georgia death certificates”. On the first page of the results was a link to Georgia’s Virtual Vault . It turned out to be an on-line database of Georigia Death Certificates from 1919 – 1927. Luckily for me I found my wife’s ancestors death certificate with an on-line digital copy which was free of charge. He was indexed as Dale Pool.

There are a number of ways to structure your query if you’re looking for records for your ancestor. Here are some which have worked for me.

  • {place} birth certificate
  • {place} marriage certificate
  • {place} death certificate
  • {place} newspapers archive

Replace {place} above with the place your ancestor came from. Substitute the place with state, county and town in seperate queries. Sometime the records are at the state level, sometimes at the county and sometimes at the local level. Each search may turn up different records.

Determine what large universaries are lcoated where your ancestor came from. These large universaries often have large digital collections on-line and available to the public for free. More and more records are coming on-line every day.

Google Books Genealogy

Posted by Jim Sanders on Sunday, 15 January, 2012

Find your ancestors in books.google.com

Most of us who’ve been doing a bit of genealogy over time have all come to know and love the Google search engine. But how many of you have utilized Google’s vast array of books they have scanned and made available online for free. This posting is about how to go about maximizing your searches to find your ancestors on Google Books. The well known web search site has digitalized many old historical and new books. Many of these books are fully searchable and viewable for free from the comfort of your own home with an internet connection. Copyright laws may limit books and publications to be fully searchable to books published earlier than 1923.

What types of information and books can you find?

  • City Directories
  • Books containing military rosters (Civil War, WWI, etc.)
  • Books containing vital record information (listing of births, marriages and deaths)
  • Name searches ==> Surprising books where your ancestors might be found.
  • Genealogical Publications
  • Books describing a specific place or time in which your ancestor lived.

For those of you who’d like to follow along, open up a second web browser and go to Google Books. For those of you who saw my post about my civil war ancestors you know a little about my ancestor Edwin A. Banks. Can we find anything about him on Google Books? I typed in Edwin A Banks and found over 1,000,000 hits. That’s quite a bit too many for me to weed through…

Is there any way for me to restructure my query to get a few less hits? Well I know that in most records about my Edwin his middle initial is present as well. How about if I put Edwin A Banks in quotation marks (“Edwin A Banks”). Well that narrowed the results down. At the time I was preparing this post, there were 12 hits which came back from the query. Few enough for anyone to go through, even me. Of the twelve hits, three were about my Edwin A Banks. One was about his time in the civil war which I knew about. The other two were about his life in Washington DC.

Edwin lived in Washington DC from 1882 to 1886. I learned this from his Civil War Pension file. Two of the hits told me about his job and work while in Washington DC. I learned he was a sterotyper for the Goverment Printing Office. He earned $0.44 per hour. Skimming through the book, it seems that was a very good pay back then. He work for 2,141 hours in one year and earned $942.04 for that year. Where else but Google Books would I have been able to find this information?

Edwin Banks Government Printing Office Record

When you put a search criteria in quotation marks it will find that exact string. However, some books may list a person’s surname first followed by a comma and then their first name. I tried searching for “Banks, Edwin A”. At the time I was preparing this posting there were 15 hits and 6 of them were about my Edwin. I learned he was in the Grand Army of the Republic and he spent time in a National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

Some of you may have noticed we’ve been using the basic search. There’s a link to get to an advanced search. Here you can search for all books, limited preview and full view, full view or Google e-books. You can search for books published by a particular publisher. There used to be a publishing year you could search by which was really helpful but as I was preparing this post it appears that criteria is no longer available.

Let’s take a look at another of one of my ancestors. Henry L Sanders was a physician working in New York City from about 1838 – 1864. I’m going to try to find a city directory online for him. Type in New York City Directory as the search criteria. That search criteria returned more than 1,000,000 results. However, right there on the fist page was the Dogget’s New York City Directory for 1845. At least when I prepared this post it was. You could enter a search criteria of 1845 New York City Directory which would narrow down the results. Then try each year you think your ancestor might appear in. I found my ancestor Henry Listed in this book and now I found his address. If you scroll through the book, you can get an idea about what some buildings in NYC looked like back in 1845.

NYC Storefront in 1845

There are even directories for other countries. My ancestor John D. Laurie who fought and died during the Civil War came from Scotland. I know his father Thomas. Let’s first look for a Scotland City Directory. Type in Scotland Directory. When I did this, I found Pigot and co.s national commercial directory of Scotland from 1837. This looked promising so I clicked on it. Once you have pulled up the book you want to search, you can type a search term to look for that criteria within that book. I tried typing in Thomas Laurie and found quite a number of hits. It came up with any Thomas or any Laurie. Since most books have the surname listed first I tried “Laurie Thomas”. I got two hits, but they were in the wrong part of Scotland, so most likely not my Thomas. I tried a few variations of Laurie such as Lawrie, Lowrie, Lowry. I found a Thomas Lowrie in the right town in Scotland (Dalkeith) so this could be my Thomas.

1837 Pigot Directory of Scotland Listing

Another way to use Google books is to learn about a particular area. One of my ancestors Abel Ford, his son Reuben and grandson Schuyler came from a small town outside of Albany, New York called Rensellaerville. I typed in Rensselaerville and quite a number of hits were found. I looked through a number of these books. Although I didn’t find my Fords in the books that had a full preview capability, I learned a bit about Rensselaerville itself and found some books to check out at a library near me. Some of the books that did not have a full view were available at the Connecticut State Library Genealogy Room.

I found the best way to learn more about what you can find out in Google books is to jump right in. You can also find books on websites other the Google Books, such as Historical Books for Genealogy or Heritage Quest. You may have free access to Heritage Quest with your local library card.