Monday, April 2, 2012

The vortex:

 The search function in is a quick way to save source citations to your tree, but the system is not designed for quick and easy browsing, or in-depth reading of histories. Plus, the search results are often hit and miss. Luckily, many of the databases on Ancestry are compiled using books available in the public domain and can be found online.  One of my favorite places to find research materials is the internet archive:

I usually end up at the Archive after getting frustrated with the slow loading images on Ancestry, so I look first for the specific title in the texts section.  That way I can search the document text, or download a copy to browse through later. I also browse other books with the same subject, author or publisher, just in case. I also recommend searching various related key words, and exploring titles by subject. Searches for the state and county are a good place to start. If that brings too many results, add the name of the town. If your ancestor was involved in one of the early wars, there are many books of muster rolls, regimental histories, and even books of miscellaneous records and memos.  Other records can be found in probate records, abstracts of wills, registers of birth, and passenger lists. All available on the Archive.

At this point you may realize you have 20 tabs open and you've downloaded 4 gigabytes of DAR journals.You're hooked. Since your day is already shot you may as well give up any pretense of work and dive into the Military service records, and pension applications. All 5269 books of them.  And stop by the moving images section to watch some early health or marketing films, Lego stop motion movies, even the first kiss ever filmed. Or stream the ever popular Grateful Dead bootleg concert recordings. Whatever piques your interest, there will be something for you to enjoy. Best of all, the site is free, and more stuff is constantly being added, so there is always something new to read or look at. 

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